After raising concerns about the temporary reduction in the Foreign Aid Budget, John received confirmation from senior Ministers that the Government remains committed to the 0.7% figure and that it will be restored as soon as UK finances are back to normal.
Here is the quote John gave The Weston Mercury, who reached out to ask his thoughts, and the full public open letter that John co-signed with several other former-rebel Conservative MPs too:
“Like most people, I think foreign aid matters. It’s a moral argument of course, but it makes practical sense too, because helping poor countries prosper creates new opportunities for British exporters, and makes it harder for foreign terrorists to recruit followers to attack us too.
So, I was very concerned about this cut. The law (which I originally voted for) allows a temporary cut in emergencies like the pandemic, but not a permanent change. I spoke personally to senior cabinet Ministers to say I couldn’t support it unless there was a way back to 0.7% once things get back to normal.
To be fair, they listened. The announcement says we will go back to 0.7% as soon as our finances are back to normal. This seems fair because – while it’s right not to balance the books on the backs of the world’s poorest people – it’s also right not to hand the bills for our day-to-day spending to future generations by paying for it through borrowings which they will ultimately have to repay either.”
The United Kingdom is a global leader in providing support to the world’s most vulnerable. Whether through striking multi-lateral agreements with other countries, supporting programmes in the developing world, through our armed forces providing peace and security or through the individual acts of charities millions of our citizens contribute; we should rightly be proud as a country of all that we do to make the world a fairer, safer and more just place.
It is in this spirit we have worked with the government to fashion a compromise that will ensure the 0.7% commitment to aid spending is not only reasserted, but also for the first time to clarify the conditions on which we will return to it. This respects the spirit of our manifesto commitments and importantly, these conditions are based on the independent economic forecasts of the Office of Budget Responsibility.
As a result we are now able to support the government. It is right we keep our commitment to be one of the worlds most generous aid donors, but it is also right to do so in a way which ensures that our public finances, the foundation of that commitment, are sound.
Today’s compromise achieves that balance and we hope all Members of Parliament support it.