Iceland refuses to repay Britain £3.6bn – what does its biggest fan think?

Tory MEP Daniel Hannan has failed to condemn Iceland for its refusal to repay Britain a £3.6 billion loan.

Daniel Hannan has this week blogged about Gordon Brown, Government debt, Britain’s worst MP and even pronounced on whether British children should learn Chinese, yet the Eurosceptic hardliner has been remarkably quiet about the nation he recently described as a “deregulated, competitive, offshore haven” – Iceland, which today had its international credit rating downgraded to “junk” status.

Iceland is threatening to default on the £3.6 billion it owes Britain for bailing out the Baltic state at the height of the financial crisis in 2008. Icelandic President Ólafur Grimsson is refusing to sign the repayment into law, putting it to a referendum of Iceland’s 243,000 voters, which, says The Times:

“Threatened to bring down the Icelandic Government, took its financial system to the brink of collapse and sparked the worst row with Britain since the Cod Wars of the 1970s.”

This is what Mr Hannan said at the time, in October 2008:

“For courage, ponder this message on my blog from an Icelandic fisherman who had saved up to attend university in Denmark. Suddenly, his savings are gone, his currency worthless.

“‘We have lost our money, we may lose our economic freedom, but we will not lose our honour. Iceland will meet its obligations to the British people, no matter what. I will quit school and abandon my dreams, go back to my boat and work till my fingers bleed to play my part in paying off our debt.’

“Read those words, Prime Minister, and hang your head in shame.”

So, Mr Hannan, when are we going to get a blog post calling For Mr Grimsson to “hang your head in shame”? A week before that post, Mr Hannan had even blamed the UK for Iceland’s woes, blindly refusing to acknowledge the failings of the Icelandic system:

“And so, when the credit crunch came, the Icelandic government was in no position to underwrite its institutions: the banks’ combined liabilities were eight times the size of the national GDP. Nor were things helped by British financial rules changing on an almost daily basis, opening Icelandic banks to liabilities that they could not have foreseen when they began…

“Some people say Iceland should join the EU…Don’t do it, Iceland. Your current status gives you the best of all worlds. It made you rich and free.”

And in 2004, he wrote a Spectator column in which he described Icelanders as the “happiest, freest and wealthiest people on earth”, by virtue of them being outside the EU. Left Foot Forward wonders whether he still believes that to be true.

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20 Responses to “Iceland refuses to repay Britain £3.6bn – what does its biggest fan think?”

  1. Mark

    The Icelandic issue is an interesting one, a shame you have to cloud it by bringing in an ranting MEP to the debate.

    Iceland coughed up in full the amount due under the FSCS guarantee, it is shameful that Britain is now bullying it to pay up in full. After all, we are not lobbying Alex Salmond to make the Scots pay for the collapse of HBOS and RBS.

  2. Polaris

    Baltic State? How did that happen, I don’t think you can tow islands through the Skagerrak and Kattegat – geography fail.

    I thought it was telling that the majority of Icelandic citizens had never heard of Icesave, why should they pay the debts of a failed private business?

  3. Anon E Mouse

    Councils and public bodies should save money in the UK where the interest that they gain can be taxed for the benefit of the country and jobs in banking can be in this country, not overseas..

    To believe it is right to send ratepayers money out of the country to gain more interest and then complain when things go wrong is pathetic.

    Next you’ll be telling me the government used the Terrorism Act to freeze Icelands assets to bully them or that Tessa Jowell, a cabinet member of the government is married to a tax avoidance lawyer…

  4. Paul Evans

    Iceland refuses to repay Britain £3.6bn. Dan Hannan is very quiet! Wonder why? http://bit.ly/51T2MR

  5. J Clive Matthews

    RT @Paul0Evans1: Iceland refuses to repay Britain £3.6bn. Dan Hannan is very quiet! Wonder why? http://bit.ly/51T2MR

  6. Liberal Conspiracy

    RT @Nosemonkey: RT @Paul0Evans1: Iceland refuses to repay Britain £3.6bn. Dan Hannan is very quiet! Wonder why? http://bit.ly/51T2MR

  7. irene rukerebuka

    RT @libcon: RT @Nosemonkey: RT @Paul0Evans1: Iceland refuses2repay Britain £3.6bn.Dan Hannan is very quiet! Wonder why? http://bit.ly/51T2MR

  8. Complete Sham

    Shamik,

    Your pathological loathing of this man is a bit silly. He reduced the clunking fist to dust! May I suggest you concentrate on uploading pictures of yourself onto your own blog, you are good at that? Everybody needs to be good at something.

    Evidence based blogging from two of the most biased writers; utter rubbish. This is an apparatchik site no more.

    I think Dan is excellent and his success on the international stage reflects a great mind and awesome public speaking. Sadly this site will not be able to compete.

    This is a genuine question for you Shamik, your articles on LabourList were annihilated by the commentariat, why do you continue to write this stuff? Who are you kidding?

  9. Alun

    Baltic state? There I was thinking Iceland was in the Atlantic.

  10. Alun

    @Complete Sham

    Whereas your post is not biased at all? You claim that “your articles on LabourList were annihilated by the commentariat”. Maybe that’s true, I don’t know, but if they were they couldn’t have nee annihilated by the sort of second rate comments you have made here. Ad hominem attacks don’t amount to any sort of serious criticism.

  11. Arnold B Smith

    @Complete Sham

    Don’t ask Shamik for pictures – the guy loves himself and likes nothing better than posing for a camera. When he was writing articles for his student mag he was the only contributor who tried to get his picture printed with each one!!

    It’s obvious he likes the high life and dreams of being alone on a yacht with Peter Mandleson…

  12. Vesuvium

    I’m somewhat sceptical of this: “… an Icelandic fisherman who had saved up to attend university in Denmark. Suddenly, his savings are gone, his currency worthless.”

    In Denmark, higher education is completely free. What is more, most people are actually paid to attend: about £500 a month (presuming you don’t live with parents). There might be some difficulty with this person’s (supposedly) being Icelandic, but if I remember correctly the Danish government funds all students at its universities from within the EEA and related countries (Norway, Switzerland, etc.). As such, I’ve never heard of anyone saving up to go to university in Denmark….

  13. Will Straw

    Complete Sham & Arnold B Smith – We don’t allow personal attacks on this website. Please see our comments policy: http://www.leftfootforward.org/about/

    Much of what Complete Sham wrote is within our rules, and we welcome debate on the topics discussed, but getting personal is not on.

    Please don’t do it again. And if commenters continue to provide bogus email addresses we will have to consider moving to a pre-moderated system.

    Will

  14. Shamik Das

    Iceland is, of course, in the Atlantic. If anyone’s interested, there was an interview with the President of Iceland on last night’s Newsnight (27:27-32:29):

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00pv1jp/Newsnight_06_01_2010/

    Well worth watching. Thanks.

  15. Complete Sham

    Will,

    A part of life on the Internet is the civil Liberty of making a fool of yourself.

    In my view if you publish tripe then it is my duty to show the public, the level of bias on this site. It is farce that you bill this site as evidence based, when all you do is if you actually fall over some that supports your view you repeat it as “case closed”. BTW your attacks on Geoff and patricia are childish and pathetic. As I said Apparatchik spin site no more.

    The sad thing is I can see you two lining yourself up with the party as budding PPC’s.

    From the BBC

    “Iceland’s president has told the BBC’s Newsnight programme that the country will pay its debts to the British and Dutch governments.
    President Olafur Grimsson said that Iceland would “honour its obligations”, despite effectively vetoing new repayment laws.”

    PS Will, I did not attack Shamik, I stated the truth, sometimes it hurts.

  16. Complete Sham

    Arnold,

    Something especially for you. Hope this works. I aint brilliant but hey.

  17. Complete Sham

    Shucks, cant link pics.

  18. Philip Walker

    As I understand the situation, Iceland is going to pay what it is obliged under international agreements to pay, rather than the amount that the UK has insisted on extracting to cover the full liability which the Government took on.

    Try reversing the roles: suppose that the US had baled out American savers in some failed British banks beyond the internationally-agreed limit, and then tried to strong-arm the UK government into paying the extra liability, despite having no leg to stand on, legally speaking. Would you think that the UK should pay up anyway, or should we tell the Americans that the excess is their own look-out?

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