Campaigners condemn Boris-backed call to slash aid budget and scrap DFID

Monday, 11 February, 2019

Proposals in Global Britain report would effectively end British aid

Campaigners from Global Justice Now have condemned a new report by Conservative MP Bob Seely, released today, for proposing to “effectively abolish” Britain’s international development programme.

The report, ‘Global Britain: A Blueprint for the Twenty-first Century’ by Bob Seely MP and James Rogers, with a foreword by the former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, is intended to feed into a Foreign Office review of Britain’s global role after Brexit. The report’s proposals on aid and development include:

  • Abolishing the Department for International Development (DFID) and subsuming its work into a bigger Foreign Office.
  • Broadening the legal definition of what constitutes ‘aid’ and demanding that it makes a financial return.
  • Including much more current government spending as ‘aid’, including handing over further funds to the Ministry of Defence and using development money to promote the City of London as a financial hub for the developing world.

Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, said:
“The authors of this report don’t seem to realise that Britain no longer rules the waves, or indeed a quarter of the world. All the imperial delusions of Brexit have been bundled together into a single document. Yet beneath the grand fantasies is a real project which would effectively abolish Britain’s international development programme.

“Over the last decade we’ve increasingly seen aid used as a tool for promoting British business – helping big business get a foothold in African markets, setting up private schools, and trying to promote the City of London as the financial centre for the developing world. These proposals would entrench this hijacking of the aid budget and turn it into a fund for the projection of British power globally.

“Of course we don’t disagree with everything in this report. Greater coordination across government should be positive, and of course the government should support freedom from oppression and freedom of expression. But if your starting point is that Britain has always been a force for good in the world, and that there is really no difference between ‘development’ and ‘capitalism’, then you’re clearly on an ideological drive that will not result in a fairer world, nor a better set of options for those who are being exploited by British business activity.

“The purpose of our development programmes should be to create a fairer world, by assisting countries to build decent, public healthcare and education systems, social housing and access to energy – the very things that helped us combat poverty here in Britain. There is really plenty to spend the aid budget on, we just require the political will to do it.”

Notes
Global Justice Now has a long history of campaigning against the misuse of the UK's aid budget and for progressive ways to spend aid that tackle the root causes of poverty. See https://www.globaljustice.org.uk/stop-profiting-poverty


Photo: Foreign Office/Flickr

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