UK Minister for Overseas Territories Baroness Elizabeth Sugg has today (November 25) resigned from her post amid the UK government’s decision to reduce the amount it will spend on overseas aid in the upcoming year.
The move was made as the UK moves to secure more money for its own economy amid the COVID-19 crisis.
The UK government had committed to spending 0.7% of its national income on overseas aid. That percentage has been reduced to 0.5%. According to the BBC, the government believes “the new 0.5% target — which adds up to about £4bn in savings — would be ‘temporary’.”
However, in her letter of resignation, Baroness Sugg said: “Many in our country face severe challenges as a result of the pandemic and I know the government must make very difficult choices in response. But I believe it is fundamentally wrong to abandon our commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on development.”
She said the cuts in overseas aid will undermine the UK’s efforts to influence other nations to do what is right as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and conflict.
“I cannot support or defend this decision, it is therefore right that I tender my resignation,” Baroness Sugg said in her letter.
In defending the cuts, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said 0.5% in foreign aid is the equivalent of £10bn. According to the BBC, the Chancellor said: “the UK would still be the second highest aid donor in the G7, “higher than France, Italy, Japan, Canada and the United States”.
He also said the UK government plans to return to 0.7% “when the fiscal situation allows”.
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