The Conservatives will retain their policy of spending 0.7 per cent of UK GDP on foreign aid each year, Prime Minister Theresa May has confirmed.
Speaking at a toothpaste factory in her own constituency of Maidenhead on Friday, Mrs. May said the policy “remains and will remain”, despite concerted opposition to the policy by her own backbenchers, and its deep unpopularity with voters.
“What we need to do, though, is to look at how that money will be spent, and make sure that we are able to spend that money in the most effective way,” Mrs May told reporters and workers at the GlaxoSmithKline plant, according to The Sun.
She continued: “I’m very proud of the record we have.
“The ability we had to be able to help in the Ebola crisis, the work that we’ve been doing supporting Syrian refugees – I was in Jordan a couple of weeks ago, in a school, meeting some youngsters who are being given a good-quality education.
“We’ve maintained that commitment, but we have to make sure that we’re spending that money as effectively as possible.”
Her announcement will anger many of her backbenchers, who are campaigning for the £13 billion a year to be put to better use, as well as with the vast majority of voters.
Conservative MP Philip Davies told Breitbart London that the policy was “truly idiotic,” adding “This is unpopular, unaffordable and absurd.
“The public are angry about this and this again shows how out of touch the political elite are with in particular working class voters who know that this money on overseas aid could be much better spent on the NHS or on social care in the UK,” he said.
A Survation poll for the Daily Mail undertaken in January this year found that a massive 78 per cent of voters wanted the aid budget slashed and the money diverted to the NHS.
Davis said at the time: “It’s ridiculous we are even having this debate because it is so blindingly obvious we should be cutting the overseas aid budget. Lots of it is wasted, and it is unaffordable. Vulnerable, elderly and disabled people at home should be our top priority.”
However, the policy will be welcomed by Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates and the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams who in the last two days have separately urged Mrs. May to keep the spending pledge.
In a statement released on Friday morning, Dr. Williams suggested the spending pledge be worn by the British people as a “badge of honour”, and called on party leaders to “hold firm on the promise we have made”.
On Thursday, Gates dismissed concerns the budget was being routinely misspent, saying: “It will never be possible to eliminate small-scale corruption or waste entirely, any more than we could eliminate waste from every government program – or from every business, for that matter.”
On Wednesday, it emerged that around £4 million in foreign aid spending has been handed to the brutal Communist regime in North Korea since the Conservatives came to power in 2010, despite the country still being technically at war with the West.
£740,000 of British taxpayers’ money was handed over to the dictatorship in 2016 alone – an increase of 167 per cent on the previous year even as North Korea boasted about its nuclear weapons development programme.