‘The stamp of Little England, not Great Britain’ claim as overseas aid cut
- Credit: Archant/PA
Cuts to overseas aid were agreed by all of Cambridgeshire’s Conservative MPs despite scathing criticism from former Huntingdon MP and prime minister Sir John Major.
He said in a statement: “The Government has blatantly broken its word, and should be ashamed of its decision.
“It seems that we can afford a ‘national yacht’ that no one either wants or needs, whilst cutting help to some of the most miserable and destitute people in the world.
“This is not a Conservatism that I recognise. It is the stamp of Little England, not Great Britain.”
Boris Johnson saw off a Tory revolt over cuts to aid funding, leaving charities angry at the prospect of an indefinite reduction in spending.
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Another former prime minister Theresa May, one of 24 Tories to join opposition parties in voting against the cut, warned that some of the world's poorest people will die as a result of the decision to slash spending on overseas aid.
But MPs backed a plan that will see the commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on aid restored only when the public finances improve.
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MPs voted by 333 to 298, a majority of 35, to back the reduction in aid funding from 0.7% of gross national income to 0.5% - a cut equivalent to around £4.4 billion this year.
The Prime Minister opened the crunch Commons debate on the decision, saying the UK's public finances are under a "greater strain than ever before in peacetime history" and "every pound we spend on aid has to be borrowed and, in fact, represents not our money but money that we're taking from future generations".
In June MP and treasury minister Steve Barclay – the MP for NE Cambs – said cuts to the overseas aid budget is the tough choice but for now “the right choice”.
He had questioned how MPs proposed raising the £4.3 billion required to reverse the overseas aid cut.
"Decisions such as this are not easy,” he said. “The situation in short is this: a hugely difficult economic and fiscal situation, which requires in turn difficult actions."
"Leaving the next generation vulnerable to the degree of fiscal threat that would be entailed with a high debt level is not itself morally sound.”