An ORB poll has revealed more than twice as many voters think the UK’s ring-fenced aid budget should be scrapped than would keep it in place.
Seven in ten respondents want to see an end to the 0.7 per cent of GDP spending pledge the poll found, when undecided voters are removed. Just three in ten of the 2,000 respondents said they hope the UK sticks with the United Nations-backed aid target.
The Telegraph commissioned the survey after Conservative MPs urged a review into the commitment, which David Cameron enshrined in law during the Coalition.
Pointing to the fact ‘Brexit’ will allow Britain to set up trade deals with developing countries, Tory MPs argue that boosting trade could have a more positive impact.
Conservative MP for Wellingborough, Peter Bone, said: “Coming out of the EU is an opportunity to look at this. If at the end of the day we pay less on aid to developing countries but allow more of their goods to be sent to Britain then it would have a far better impact.
“If we want to solve problems in developing countries the real answer is trade, not aid.”
Andrew Bridgen echoed his Tory colleague’s sentiments. The North West Leicestershire MP remarked: “As Tories we judge policy by outputs, not inputs. But with the foreign aid budget we judge it by the amount of money we shovel in.
“I am a big supporter of trade not aid. I believe in the saying ‘If you give someone fish you feed them for a day, if you teach them to fish you feed them for a lifetime’. Misspending UK taxpayers’ money aids nobody.”
Earlier this month it emerged that the government has sent almost £6 million of foreign aid money to an African group controlled by a “cult” whose leader is wanted by Interpol.
A spokesman for the International Development Department said: “As an outward-looking, globally engaged nation, we believe that the UK should work to tackle international problems at their source – not wait for them to arrive on our doorstep.