Boris Johnson defends decision to cut foreign aid budget
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Boris Johnson admitted that the UK Government does support a return to foreign aid contribution to raise to 0.7 percent in the future during the House of Commons debate. However, the Prime Minister also stressed the severity of the economic challenges facing the nation as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Johnson said: “I believe on this vital subject there is common ground between the Government and honourable members on all sides of the house.
“We believe in the power of aid to transform millions of lives.
“That is why we continue to agree that the UK should continue to dedicate 0.7 percent of our gross national income to official development assistance.
“This is not an argument about principle the only question is when we return to 0.7 percent.”
He added: “Here we must face the harsh fact that the world is now enduring a catastrophe of a kind that only happens once a century.
“This pandemic has cast our country into the deepest recession on record.”
“[The pandemic] paralysing our national life, threatening the survival of entire sectors of the economy and causing the Chancellor to find over £407 billion to safeguard livelihoods and jobs, to support businesses and public services across the UK.”
He added: “Everyone will accept that when you are suddenly compelled to spend £407 billion on sheltering our people from an economic hurricane never experienced in living memory, the most inevitable be consequences for other areas of public spending.”
Boris Johnson announces plan to 'restore' foreign aid budget
Mr Johnson also outlined the two tests that must be satisfied before the UK Government will return to the 0.7 percent contribution.
He said: “I can assure any honorable member who wishes to make the case for aid that they are, when it comes to me or anyone in the Government, preaching to the converted.
“We will act on that conviction by returning to 0.7 percent as soon as two vital tests have been satisfied.
“First, that the UK is no longer borrowing for current or day to day expenditure.
“Second, that public debt, excluding the Bank of England, is falling as a share of GDP.”
During his speech, Boris Johnson also paid tribute to Chancellor Rishi Sunak for steering the UK through the economic turmoil of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Sunak became Chancellor of the Exchequer in February 2020, just one month before the UK entered its first lockdown.
He replaced Sajid Javid in the role. Mr Javid replaced Matt Hancock as Health Secretary in June 2021.
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