Ruth Davidson joins former PMs in criticism of foreign aid budget cut

The former leader of the Conservatives in Scotland has become the latest figure to warn against plans to cut the overseas aid budget.

Tuesday, 24th November 2020, 6:36 am

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is widely expected to trim the UK’s commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on overseas aid to 0.5% in Wednesday’s spending review.

Ms Davidson, who stepped down as leader in Holyrood last August, said the reduction was a “counterproductive choice – morally, economically and politically”.

Writing in The Times, she said the cut could be seen as “mixed messaging” to the world.

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The former leader of the Conservatives in Scotland has become the latest figure to warn against plans to cut the overseas aid budget. (Photo by Russell Cheyne - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

She wrote: “Barely a week after a big defence announcement, arguing that ‘Global Britain’ had been in retreat for too long and pledging to better shoulder our global defence responsibilities, that same ‘Global Britain’ turns around and says we’ll walk away from our humanitarian and development ones.”

The MSP joins the former prime ministers David Cameron and Tony Blair in warning against the move, while Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has also made a significant intervention.

Mr Cameron, who oversaw the country first meeting the 0.7% target in 2013, said abandoning it would be a “moral, strategic and political mistake”.

Mr Blair said the 0.7% foreign aid 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.

Mr Welby told The Observer: “Keeping our aid commitment is a strong signal that the UK is a reliable partner for long-term economic, social, environmental and educational advancement across the globe.”

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