Chancellor Rishi Sunak today announced plans to reduce the amount the UK spends as a proportion of GDP from 0.7 percent to 0.5 percent for 2021, delivering a total saving of more than £4billion, telling the Commons the cut was necessary in a time of “national emergency”. The plans have already been criticised by Theresa May, David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and John Major, with the latter describing the decision as “morally wrong and politically unwise”.
However, their arguments were given short shrift by Mr Lowe, who told Express.co.uk: “It’s something in my view which defies logic, when we are running massive deficits.
“When there is talk of coming after middle England and the honest, hard-working taxpayer for money, why would we be spending £15billion all over the world on various vanity projects to make politicians feel good and look good?
“In the course of that, a lot of it disappears into illicit bank accounts and fraud.
“So to my mind it is quite right that we should retrench and concentrate on getting our own house in order.
“And ultimately if we then subsequently decide that we are then rich enough and successful enough to be able to play Lord Bountiful then ultimately fine.
“But at the moment overseas aid should be severely restricted.
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“If you look at Theresa May, my question to her is why did she effectively sell on the student loan so a lot of students are now paying the most exorbitant rate of interest on the debt that they have got.
“I think they are all representative of modern Britain really.
“As for John Major, he should keep his mouth shut – the guy’s got to comment on everything hasn’t he?”
Prior to Mr Sunak’s statement today, Mr Lowe tweeted: “I wouldn’t take too much notice of the five former PMs opposing the move to cut foreign aid.
“It’s probably a good indicator that Boris is doing something worthwhile.
“Major, Blair, Brown, Cameron, May. All disastrous in their own ways. Best to ignore.”
Speaking in the Commons earlier, Mr Sunak said: “During a domestic fiscal emergency, when we need to prioritise our limited resources on jobs and public services, sticking rigidly to spending 0.7 percent of our national income on overseas aid is difficult to justify to the British people, especially when we are seeing the highest peacetime levels of borrowing on record.
“I have listened with great respect to those who have argued passionately to retain this target. But at a time of unprecedented crisis, government must make tough choices.”
Former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP said: “One of those causes is tackling extreme poverty, so to cut our aid budget by a third in a year when millions more will fall into extreme poverty will make not just them poorer but us poorer in the eyes of the world, because people will worry that we are abandoning a noble ideal that we in this country have done more to champion than anyone else.”
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby tweeted: “The cut in the aid budget – made worse by no set date for restoration – is shameful and wrong.
“It’s contrary to numerous Government promises and its manifesto.
“I join others in urging MPs to reject it for the good of the poorest, and the UK’s own reputation and interest.”