I am a contrarian. The more that public opinion has lambasted the Government commitment to ‘invest’ 0.7% of GDP in International Aid, the more determined I’ve been to stand behind the policy. I believe it is right and in the UK’s long term interests. I feel incredibly proud that the Parliament I’ve been a member of for the last 8 yrs has met our obligations to the world by meeting the United Nations International Aid targets.
But there are many British people who do not agree. New Minister for International Development, Penny Mordaunt is going to have to make the case. She writes in today’s Telegraph. Rightly, she outlines the threats to the UK from disease, mass migration and wars, which do not respect international boundaries, and the shortsightedness of just waiting til these threats arrive on our doorsteps. Like sitting ducks. Neither does the Secretary of State intend to just sit back and not meet the challenging arguments of those who would dismiss the importance of International Aid. She sets out her argument as backing to 5 pledges to the people of Britain.
She pledges to use International Aid alongside the Dept of International Trade to grow business and investment in developing countries. She pledges not to invest if others, with equal or greater responsibility will not invest. The aim will be to develop skills that enable developing companies to stand on their own. She pledges to reduce funding to those who fail to deliver on targets set. She pledges to invest in programmes like plastic pollution and illegal wildlife trading which matter to the British people. And she pledges to work with other Govt departments to maximise effectiveness of any investment. It seems that Secretary of State Mordaunt intends to be hard-headed as well as generous. We need all the British people to be proud of out investment in International Aid.