The Brecon & Radnorshire Liberal Democrats have expressed profound disappointment after Conservative MP for Brecon & Radnorshire Fay Jones, voted to end the UK’s commitment to contribute 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) on international development aid.
The decision, which broke a key Conservative manifesto pledge, follows the abolition of the Department for International Development last year.
The sharp cut to the UK’s international development operations, which had previously been widely regarded as amongst the most cost-effective and successful in the world, has been criticised by the United Nations and some NATO allies and strikes a blow to the UK’s national security interests and ability to tackle emerging strategic threats around the world.
It was also criticised by several prominent Conservatives, including former Prime Ministers John Major and Theresa May.
Former Scottish Conservative Leader Ruth Davidson described the cut as “a bloody disgrace.”
Former Tory International Development Secretary Rory Stewart tweeted: “The UK overseas development aid was not just a manifesto promise – it made immense difference to some of the poorest people in the world, it was vital to our international reputation, and should have been a foundation for the future of our role in the world.”
Commenting, Welsh Liberal Democrat MS for Mid and West Wales Jane Dodds, said:
“It is hard to imagine the scale of unnecessary human suffering unleashed by this vote. It means more children sold into slavery. It means more children dying in famine and conflicts in Yemen and Syria. It means fewer people having access to education, economic opportunities, basic sanitation and life-saving medicine. It means efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 becoming harder. It means a step backwards in our race to halt the climate emergency.
“Fay Jones voted to stop young children being reunited with parents and families in the UK. She voted against providing free school meals to children over Christmas during a pandemic. This week she continued in her failure to stand on the side of England football players when they take the knee against racism and broke her own manifesto promise to the poorest and most vulnerable.
“This Conservative UK Government is not consistent about many things, but they are consistently cruel.”
James Gibson-Watt, Glasbury Councillor and Leader of the Powys Liberal Democrat-Green Group on Powys County Council added:
“The tying of the 0.7% target to GNI ensured that aid spending was automatically adjusted in line with the UK’s economic fortunes, meaning that the budget declined when the country and UK Government faced difficult economic circumstances. We were already spending below pre-pandemic levels, so the central argument that the Tories are making to justify this cut is disingenuous.
“Our international development spending played a crucial role in stopping the 2014 Ebola outbreak from escalating into an epidemic beyond West Africa and spreading to the UK and is still vital in funding worldwide measures to roll out vaccines and stop new variants of COVID-19.
“It has also supported successful programmes tackling terrorism and countering radicalisation.
“This decision harms our security and diplomatic priorities and makes us weaker at home and abroad.”