politics

Rishi Sunak set to slash foreign aid target to pay for Covid crisis as Malala and former PMs vow to fight it


RISHI Sunak is set to slash the foreign aid target to pay for the Covid crisis in his mini budget today.

But Nobel Peace prize winner Malala and five former Prime Minister’s have stuck the boot into Boris Johnson over suggestions it will be cut – and vowed to fight it.

Rishi Sunak is under pressure to ditch plans to cut foreign aid

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Rishi Sunak is under pressure to ditch plans to cut foreign aidCredit: Simon Walker HM Treasury
Nobel Peace prize winner Malala demanded the PM not cut foreign aid

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Nobel Peace prize winner Malala demanded the PM not cut foreign aidCredit: AP:Associated Press
Sir John Major is one of five ex-PM's urging Mr Sunak to keep the 0.7 per cent target

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Sir John Major is one of five ex-PM’s urging Mr Sunak to keep the 0.7 per cent targetCredit: PA:Press Association

Mr Sunak will be under increasing pressure to gain control of the public finances after a year of dishing out huge amounts of cash to keep the country afloat during the coronavirus crisis.

And as the Chancellor looks down the barrel of a bleak winter of local coronavirus restrictions, even more money will be needed to fund it.

The foreign aid target is expected to be cut from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent of gross national income to help start balancing the books again.

The slashed spending would work out to save £4billion from spending based on last year’s figures.

But Theresa May, David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and Sir John Major have all now demanded Mr Sunak and Mr Johnson scrap the plans.

And Malala Yousafzai, the Oxford educated Pakistani activist, called on Downing Street to keep to its election promise of keeping the 0.7 per cent target.

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Malala wrote on Twitter last night: “130 million girls were already out of school before #COVID19. Now 20 million more might not return.

“@BorisJohnson – a generation of girls is counting on our support.

“Now is not the time to back out of commitments to education.”

In the fierce backlash to the plan, Tory ex-PM Sir John told The Times the plan was morally wrong and politically disastrous.

He said: “Cutting our overseas aid is morally wrong and politically unwise.

“It breaks our word and damages our soft power.

“Above all, it will hurt many of the poorest people in the world. I cannot and do not support it.”

Boris Johnson vowed to keep the foreign aid target last election

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Boris Johnson vowed to keep the foreign aid target last electionCredit: Getty Images – Getty
David Cameron warned it will be a political blunder

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David Cameron warned it will be a political blunderCredit: Getty Images – Getty

Mrs May is also reported to have expressed her displeasure at the plan to her colleagues.

Both Mr Cameron and Mr Blair made a joint intervention against the cuts to foreign aid last week, branding it a strategic blunder.

Mr Brown has also said it risks destroying Britain’s reputation on the world stage.

More than 20 Tory MPs are also preparing to rebel against the cuts, though there is broad support for it across so called “Red Wall” MPs which turned their seats Blue last December.

Mr Sunak is expected to say the legislation will be brought in to cut the aid budget, giving Tories the chance to try to drum up opposition to it in the Commons.

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Existing laws tells ministers they have a “duty” to meet the 0.7 target.

And MPs are alarmed at the possibility the fresh rules would cause a permanent cut in foreign aid.

Ms Sunak is expected to stress today that the change is a temporary one – and will be restored.

HM Treasury explain how the government’s Spending Review works





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