Thursday 26 November 2020

Coda to the post above

An update to the post above: Wednesday's News at Ten ramped up the language yet further. It changed from this at Six:
One of the more controversial aspects of the spending review is the Chancellor's decision to cut - for the time being - the amount of money the UK gives in aid to poorer countries. Mr Sunak told MPs that to carry on spending abroad when we have a domestic emergency would be difficult to justify to the British people. Here's James Landale. this at Ten:
One of the more controversial elements of the spending review, was the Chancellor's decision to cut the amount of money the UK gives in foreign aid. The decision has been widely criticised, and a minister at the Foreign Office has resigned in protest. Mr Sunak told MPs that to carry on spending abroad when there was a domestic emergency was difficult to justify. Our diplomatic correspondent James Landale has more details.
The remainder of the report then ran as follows, relegating the one defence nearer the end and bringing the criticisms forward:
James Landale: For years, the sight of a plane delivering British food and medicine has brought hope to millions. The humanitarian assistance that can, for some, mean the difference between life and death. But now the Government's cutting back, to the fury of the man who championed aid in office.
David Cameron: Well, I think it's a very sad moment. It not just that we've... We're breaking a promise to the poorest people and the poorest countries in the world, a promise that we made and a promise that we don't have to break, it's that that 0.7% commitment, it really said something about Britain.
Last year, the UK spent £15 billion on foreign aid, about 0.7% of national income. The Government is now cutting that legally binding target to just 0.5%. That means spending only £10 billion next year. This would be less than Germany on 0.6%, but more than France on 0.4%. Those who work to reduce poverty and disease say these cuts will bite deep, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Romilly Greenhill, One Campaign: This is the last time we should be cutting aid. Cutting aid will make it harder to get vaccines to people all over the world, harder to get the treatments that people need and, ultimately, it will extend the lifetime of the pandemic. This is a little bit like cutting funding to the RAF right in the middle of the Battle of Britain. 
The Foreign Office Development Minister Lady Sugg was so unhappy she resigned, saying the cut was fundamentally wrong. But the aid budget has long faced questions about priorities, such as why some goes to India, with its own space programme. Questions that are harder to answer when the country's facing such an economic emergency.
Neil O'Brien MP, Conservative: This is not something that anybody wanted to have to do, but the truth is that the NHS and helping people who are unemployed has to be the priority next year. 

For years, Britain's had a reputation as an aid superpower. And that's got the UK a hearing on the international stage. It's opened door for ministers and officials here at the Foreign Office. The question is what impact today's decision will have on that reputation just as Britain tries to carve a new role for itself after Brexit. To spend less on aid, the Government will also have to change the law - and that means a long Parliamentary battle ahead. James Landale, BBC News.

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