World, Europe

UK foreign aid cuts 'immoral,' 'unlawful,' says former minister

Move will jeopardize thousands of lives across the world, says ex-Brexit secretary

Muhammad Mussa   | 07.06.2021
UK foreign aid cuts 'immoral,' 'unlawful,' says former minister FILE PHOTO

LONDON

With parliamentary attempts to block the move seemingly thwarted, a prominent Conservative Party lawmaker on Monday condemned the UK government’s “immoral” and “unlawful” plans to cut foreign aid.

The proposed plan would jeopardize the lives of thousands of people across the world, David Davis, a former Brexit secretary, said on BBC Radio 4’s Today program.

“Historically, I am a critic of aid spending but doing it this way is really so harmful. If you're a small child and suddenly you get dirty water, you get an infection from it and you die, temporary doesn’t mean much,” Davis said, arguing that the government’s promise of the aid cut being a temporary measure will not alleviate anxieties and fears.

During the 2019 general election, the Conservative Party committed in its manifesto to spend 0.7% of national income on foreign aid and international development.

However, it now wants to reduce the figure to 0.5%, a move that has drawn outcry from MPs who accuse the party of reneging on its electoral promise.

The aid cut will amount to some £4 billion (over $5.66 billion).

The government contends that the move is essential due to high levels of borrowing during the coronavirus pandemic, vowing that it will still continue to spend more than £10 billion (over $14.16 billion) on foreign aid for the duration of the year.

The plan has been decried across the political spectrum, with senior figures and MPs coming out in support of a parliamentary rebellion.

Davis, as well as former Prime Minister Theresa May, were among more than 30 Tory MPs who supported a motion that could foil the government’s move.

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown described the matter as “a life-and-death issue” and said it makes “absolutely no economic … or moral sense.”

“It’s a life-and-death issue. We’re actually deciding who lives and who dies, particularly at this point where if we withdraw the money for vaccination, it’s the equivalent of pulling away the needle from a kid or from an adult who is sick who needs the vaccination, a 90% cut, for example, in support for polio vaccination,” Brown said in an interview with the BBC Breakfast program.

“We’re about to get a huge payment from the International Monetary Fund of $23bn, that covers this cut six times over, so it makes absolutely no economic sense. But particularly no moral sense. And it’s in our self-interest, of course, to see the others vaccinated because nobody is safe until everybody is safe.”

A rebellion in Parliament was brewing throughout Monday and the government was expected to experience its first loss in the House of Commons since securing its 80-seat majority in 2019.

It, however, seems to have been thwarted as the speaker of the house rejected the motion to save the government from what would have been a humiliating defeat.

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