Jeremy Hunt, who got to the final stage of the 2019 Tory leadership race, has attacked the Government’s proposed foreign aid cuts in a bid to help pay for the coronavirus crisis. The former senior politician called on the UK to not “turn its back” on those in extreme poverty across the globe. But Mr Hunt has been criticised by broadcaster Andrew Neil.
Mr Neil mocked the former Health Secretary on Twitter, after Mr Hunt commented on an opinion piece by Scottish Tory politician Ruth Davidson against the proposed cuts to foreign aid.
While sharing the Times Article, Mr Hunt wrote on Twitter: “Well said @RuthDavidsonMSP.
“This year, according to the World Bank, 100 million more people will fall into extreme poverty.
“The Britain I know and love does not turn it back on such people – whatever our challenges at home.”
But Mr Neil replied: “The Britain I would like us to be would do much more to ensure that it’s foreign aid goes overwhelmingly to the world’s poorest and is not squandered on vanity projects, waste and consultants.”
The journalist’s response appears to be a general critic of Mr Hunt’s time in Government, but could also be a thinly veiled dig on the Surrey MP’s recent comments that UK aid money should be used to promote “liberal values” such as democracy and a free press.
Earlier this month he called for a move away from a focus on poverty as many countries are on a “well-trodden path to prosperity”.
Mr Hunt said while he was a strong supporter of international aid, Government policy should move away from poverty alleviation.
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Last week he wrote on Twitter: “I felt incredibly proud we maintained aid spending during the cuts after the financial crisis because it spoke to our values as a compassionate country.
“Nothing has changed — THIS MUST NOT HAPPEN.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is believed to be considering slashing the UK’s foreign aid spending target to help repair the nation’s economy.
He could decide to reduce spending on foreign aid from 0.7 percent to 0.5 percent of gross national income.
Mr Sunak will unveil his spending review in the Commons tomorrow.
The Government could come under fire if it decides to cut the foreign aid budget.
Preet Kaur Gill, Labour’s shadow international development secretary, said: “During this pandemic the government have willingly handed over millions of pounds of UK taxpayers’ money to its friends yet they are now willing to turn their backs on the world’s poorest.
“By rowing back on their own manifesto commitment to spend 0.7 percent of GNI on aid, the Government would reduce our ability to tackle global poverty and injustice and signal a retreat from Britain as a force for good in the world.”