Boris Johnson praised a major bank’s historical role in financing industries dependent on the slave trade in an endorsement carried on the bank’s website.
In the foreword to a book on the history of Arbuthnot Latham now carried on the private bank’s website, Johnson says the bank “founded in 1833” had “financed everything from coffee plantations in Ceylon to gold mining in South Africa to banana growers in Jamaica” adding “I am delighted to say that 180 years later the bank is not only alive but flourishing”.
Slavery was not formally abolished in Ceylon, which was the British colonial name for what is now Sri Lanka, until the Indian Slavery Act of 1843. Slavery was phased out in South Africa and Jamaica in the years following the 1833 Abolition of Slavery Act, although some Jamaican plantations continued to use indentured labour from India.
Alfred Latham, co-founder of the bank, is said to have made his fortune “managing sugar plantations in the West Indies where they also owned slaves”. Indeed, Latham’s family are recorded as having claimed compensation for slaves freed after Britain abolished the practice.
Today the bank is owned by Henry Angest who has donated over £2.8 million to the Conservative Party. Angest has refused to deny involvement with the Constitutional Research Council, an organisation believed to have handed £435,000 in ‘dark money’ to the DUP to help them campaign for Brexit. Despite receiving £144,140 in taxpayer-funded EU handouts, his bank has called on the Tories to “use Brexit to slash red tape”.
It adds to a long list of Johnson’s offensive comments from his most recent comparison of women that wear the burqa to “bank robbers” and “letter boxes”, to his past references to “flag-waving piccannninies” and “tribal warriors” with “watermelon smiles”.