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But should the UK cut the foreign aid in a bid to save money to cover the huge bill caused by the coronavirus pandemic? Vote in Express.co.uk’s poll.
The proposed budget cut comes as Westminster plans to introduce a £15 billion fund to help the UK survive the coronavirus pandemic which has crippled the country’s economy.
But the controversial proposals have been slated down by former prime ministers Tony Blair and David Cameron as a “strategic mistake”.
The spending on aid is related to gross national income which, in 2019, was £2.17 trillion, meaning a drop from 0.7 percent to 0.5 percent would account for more than £4 billion.
As the spending aid is related to the national income, a 0.2 percent drop based on 2019 gross national income would mean a cut of more than £4 billion.
Mr Blair said foreign aid – and the 0.7 target – had been a “great British soft power achievement” and that it had saved millions of lives in Africa by reducing deaths from malaria and HIV.
He added to the Telegraph: “It’s enlightened self-interest.
“Neither the challenge of climate or Covid-19 can be met without Africa.
“Nor can those of extremism and uncontrolled immigration. To change it is a profound strategic mistake.”
The controversial decision has also been condemned by 185 development and humanitarian organisations in a letter signed by likes of Unicef UK and Save the Children.
The letter said: “Stepping back from our international commitments is not the solution and risks damaging the UK’s standing globally as we define our role in the world post-Brexit.
“A U-turn on your manifesto commitment to maintain the 0.7% target would signal we are a nation willing to balance its books on the backs of the world’s most marginalised people, many of whom are dealing with the impact of Covid-19 on top of existing hardship.”
David Cameron, who was the first Prime Minister to oversee the country meet the expected 0.7% goal in 2013, also stressed abandoning the target would be “a moral, strategic and political mistake”.
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He explained: “Moral, because we should be keeping our promises to the world’s poorest.”
“A strategic error, because we would be signalling retreat from one of the UK’s vital acts of global leadership.
“And a political mistake because the UK is about to chair the G7 and important climate change negotiations.
“I hope the PM will stick to his clear manifesto promise, maintain UK leadership and save lives.”
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman stated the UK has no legal obligation to meet the target of 0.7 percent but stressed the legislation acknowledged this might not always be met.
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