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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