Sir John Redwood ridiculed David Cameron and Tony Blair after the two former prime ministers warned against cutting the foreign aid budget. The Government is considering reducing its foreign aid target from 0.7 percent to 0.5 percent, which would save around £4bn this year. The controversial proposal to cut the budget has been criticised by former prime ministers Tony Blair and David Cameron as a “strategic mistake”.
Sir John questioned why the two senior figures were not “lecturing the EU” since Brussels contributes far less to foreign aid than the UK.
He argued that at a time of financial crisis, “no part of government can be exempt from questions about whether it is offering value for money”.
The Tory MP pointed out that before Brexit, the only two budgets that could not be reduced were foreign aid and the EU contributions.
Speaking to LBC, Sir John explained: “My response to them is why are they not criticising the EU?”
He added: “Because last year, excluding the UK, the EU member-states only managed to contribute 0.42% of their GDP to their overseas aid budget, compared to 0.7% for Britain.
“Blair and Cameron normally think the EU is wonderful and agree with all its works.
“Why aren’t they lecturing the EU to get up to our level?
“Or why don’t they say to us, we should be at the same level as the EU?”
He added: “I don’t want to take a mad axe taken to good aid and poverty relief, we should be proud of that work, but we should have a good value for money review of our overseas budget.
“I don’t think at this time of great stress in the public finance, any part of government can be exempt from questions about whether it is offering that value.”
The former prime ministers warned Boris Johnson that cutting the UK’s overseas aid budget would undermine the UK’s G7 presidency next year and cost lives.
Mr Cameron warned such a decision would be a “moral, strategic and political mistake”.
Mr Blair said: “This has been a great British soft power achievement. It isn’t about charity. It’s enlightened self-interest.”