Matt Ridley, who was chairman of the collapsed Northern Rock bank between 2004 and 2007, tweeted on Monday that he was “not a fan of reparations for the sins of past generations.” Nonetheless, he proposed that there might be “a case for demanding some sort of reparations from the Chinese government” due to the “terrible human suffering” the pandemic will inevitably cause.

Needless to say, Ridley, who described his own tenure as head of the failed bank as a “catastrophic black mark” on his CV, was raked over the Twitter coals for the “spectacular” irony of the idea.

“Where are your reparation payments for the bank you crashed?” one person asked

“I’d like to have a word with the greedy tossers who crashed the economy in 2008, and got bailed out. Know any of them?” another quipped.

It wasn’t just Ridley’s dodgy record as a banker that prompted accusations of hypocrisy, however. There were also plenty of proposals for the British government to pay its own reparations for centuries of imperialism, with particular focus on the Opium Wars in China.

“Have you ever read a history book? Because China will respond by asking Britain for reparations for waging war to open its Chinese markets to opium dealers in the 19th century,” one person wrote.

“The British Empire ravished China, flooded the place with opium as a weapon of war and colonized Hong Kong until 1997,” another said.

“Your country literally went to war with China so they could sell them dope,” another offered.

The wider sins of the sins of the British Empire were also up for judgement.

“What reparations did the UK pay Ireland and the other members of the empire again Matt?” one said.

“If it comes to reparations, many countries are due a massive pay out for Britain’s past sins. Where do we submit our claims?” one user wanted to know. 

Back in the present day, another person suggested that it might be Britain that eventually needs to pay reparations for “endangering” Europe with its sluggish response to the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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