Overseas aid

The foreign aid cut marks a change of priorities

The proposed reduction in international aid from 0.7 to 0.5 per cent of GDP has elicited a furious reaction from some quarters. It has been condemned by five former prime ministers, three of whom never met the target when they were in office. What is missing from this debate is the historical context. The rise in development spending was part of the peace dividend that followed the end of the cold war. But the just-concluded defence spending settlement marks a UK recognition that this peace dividend is over — great power competition is back and this country’s military spending now needs to increase. Over the next decade or so, military

Stephen Daisley

The Tory case for overseas aid

There may be worse times to slash international development spending than the middle of a pandemic but it’s got to at least be in the top five. The reduction from 0.7 per cent of GDP to 0.5 represents a drop of £4 billion in investment. As Katy Balls notes, the current level was not only a manifesto commitment in 2019 but is enshrined in law, so ministers will have to ask parliament to legislate to allow them to break their own manifesto promise. International development is like foreign policy: there are no votes to be gained from it. In fact, abolishing it altogether would make the Tories more popular with their target