UK’s May promises to keep 0.7% aid spend target if she wins election

Theresa May wants to create a hierarchy of locals versus 'foreigners' through a discriminatory ID card system whereby EU citizens will have to carry their identity papers around with them while “indigenous” Brits will not. [Screengrab/10 Downing Street]

British Prime Minister Theresa May promised Friday (21 April) to keep the UK’s aid spending at 0.7% of GDP if – as appears likely – her ruling Conservative party win the upcoming snap election.

The UK is one of the few EU member states to currently hit that target, and the pledge – to appear in the party’s election manifesto – means it will be guaranteed until 2022, well after Britain leaves the bloc.

There had been mounting speculation that May may be about to drop the commitment, first promised by Tony Blair and then Gordon Brown, but only met under the previous, David Cameron-led coalition in 2013.

UKIP, and the hard-right of her own Conservative Party, have been increasingly critical of the aid budget, at a time of austerity, with the current Minister for International Development, Priti Patel, having previously mused on scrapping it.

UK aid minister promises to keep 0.7% target post-Brexit

The UK’s new aid minister has promised to keep the country’s aid target of 0.7% of GDP, despite herself once campaigning for the Department for International Development (DfID) to be shut down.

Patel took office under May last summer with a promise in the Daily Mail – which often highlights waste in official development aid – to crack down on some projects.

Speaking at the start of the election campaign – after a snap poll was called for 8 June on Tuesday – May, speaking in her constituency, said the 0.7% commitment “will remain”.

But she added that money needed to be spend “in the most effective way”.

But asked about its future at a campaign event in Berkshire, Mrs May said: “Let’s be clear, the 0.7% commitment remains and will remain.

“What we need to do though is look at how that money is spent and make sure that we are able to spend that money in the most effective way.”

Former Chancellor George Osborne tweeted that the announcement was “very welcome”.

This week Microsoft founder turned philanthropist Bill Gates had spoken out against any cut in foreign aid.

Lives at risk if Tories choose to cut UK foreign aid target, says Bill Gates

Bill Gates warned Theresa May that should the Conservatives go ahead and abandon the UK’s overseas aid spending pledge it would reduce the country’s influence in the world and mean more lives lost in Africa.

In 2015 the UK spent £12.1bn on overseas development assistance. This was projected to rise to £13.3bn in 2016.

The UK is one of only five member states to meet the 0.7% target, which was first laid down by the United Nations in the 1970s.

The others are Sweden (1.4%), Luxembourg (0.93%), Denmark (0.85%) and the Netherlands (0.76%). Germany is also now set to meet the objective.

New report warns on ‘creative accounting’ diverting aid to housing refugees within EU

A major new report has warned that there are no strict guidelines on how EU member states divert parts of their development aid budgets to helping and housing refugees within their own countries, rather than spending it abroad.

However, there has been criticism in the past 12 months that countries are diverting parts of the supposedly overseas aid budgets into helping house and feed refugees that reach Europe.

Merkel’s ‘man in Africa’ downbeat on prospects for Africa-EU summit

Gunther Nooke, Angela Merkel’s representative to Africa, offered a gloomy prognosis of November's Africa-EU summit in Abidjan on Tuesday (11 April), saying trade between the continents was “almost irrelevant” and that the African Union required major “institutional reform".

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