Foreign aid cuts 'will come back to haunt UK' says Brown
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Gordon Brown has condemned Boris Johnson for the Government’s decision to cut foreign aid from 0.5 to 0.7 percent of national income. The former Prime Minister told BBC Breakfast that the move was “not necessary” and “makes absolutely no economic sense.” Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in November that the commitment to pay 0.7 percent to international aid, signed into law in 2015, would be abandoned owing to the costs of the coronavirus crisis.
Mr Brown said that withdrawing foreign aid during the pandemic while countries were struggling to secure Covid vaccines would harm the UK in the long term.
He said that the decision was “the equivalent of taking away the needle from a kid or from an adult who’s sick, who needs a vaccination.”
He added: “There’s been an all-party consensus, all parties, for 25 years that we need 0.7 percent.
“We need to play our role in the world by being one of the leaders in aid and really this is not the right time to pull things away because basically this when the poorest countries need help most.
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“I can see how It could be financed, we’re about to get a huge payment from the International Monetary Fund of $23 billion. That covers this cut six times over.
“So it makes absolutely no economic sense, but particularly no moral sense and it’s in our self-interest, of course, to see others vaccinated because nobody’s safe until everybody’s safe.
“It’s not necessary, because we are going to suffer ourselves.
“If the disease is spread in Africa and elsewhere because we’ve cut the overseas aid budget and we’re not allowing people to be vaccinated, then it will come back to haunt us.”
He went on to say that “We’ve got a poll published this morning that says that 79 percent of the British public want us to pay our fair share of vaccinating the world.
“In other words, they don’t want these cuts in overseas aid and I think it’s a myth for the government to say that there’s public support for what they’re doing.
“I think people know that while charity begins at home, it should never end at home because we’ve got responsibilities and benefits from working with the rest of the world.”
The Prime Minister is expected to lay out a plan for worldwide vaccination at the G7 summit in Cornwall on Friday.
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He will pledge to vaccinate the world population from Covid-19 by the end of 2022 – a move Mr Brown called “a promise, not a plan.”
The global vaccine sharing programme Covax has been set up to supply vaccines around the world, particularly in countries with low supply.
France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US have all announced how many vaccines they will commit to the scheme, but the UK is yet to announce the figures for its planned contributions.
With over 400 million vaccine orders for the UK’s 70 million population, Britain could have 120 million vaccines left over after the entire country receives two jabs.
Over 75 percent of British adults have had a least one vaccine dose, while over half have received both doses.
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