Multibillion foreign aid budget should be spent to advance Britain’s ‘political and commercial interests’, Boris Johnson says

Multibillion foreign aid budget should be spent to advance Britain’s ‘political and commercial interests’, Boris Johnson says


Boris Johnson has backed calls for a huge de-facto cut in the foreign aid budget, saying the money should be spent in the UK’s “political and commercial interests”.

The £13.4bn pot should fund all peacekeeping work and world service broadcasting, a controversial report says – diverting much of its cash to the Ministry of Defence and the BBC.

And the aid target, enforced in law at 0.7 per cent of gross national income, should be reworked for the UK government’s own policy aims, beyond economic development in poor countries.


Mr Johnson threw his weight behind the proposals, put forward in a pamphlet by a backbench Tory MP, saying they “are hard to disagree with”.

“We could make sure that 0.7 per cent – a huge sum of money – was spent more in line with Britain’s political, commercial and diplomatic interests,” he said.

The former foreign secretary pointed to his anger when, after Hurricane Irma devastated the British Virgin islands in 2017, UK aid cash could not be used to rebuild lives there.

“That was a real lesson to me in the importance of changing these rules,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.”

Mr Johnson insisted he did not “want to despoil Dfid [department for international development] of their cash”, but added: “We can be smarter in the use of our aid money.”

 

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