The UK government has long been criticised for providing foreign aid to countries with space programmes and nuclear weapons programmes, or to countries in the G20. Tabloid newspapers give us stories of our foreign aid budget being used to support girl bands and the growth of football. And now further media reports reveal that the government is currently considering sending foreign aid to European Union countries like Poland, Hungary and some of the Baltic states post-Brexit.
There is a strong moral case for a sensible foreign aid budget which responds to earthquakes and volcano eruptions, to outbreaks of killer disease and to famine. There is a strong moral case for a foreign aid budget providing clean drinking water and vital medical supplies. There’s also a strong moral case, post-Brexit when we regain the power, for eliminating tariffs for buying goods from some of the world’s poorest nations and helping them through trade which develops their economies. All of these things give a helping hand to those who truly need it. However, whilst so many key services in the UK are being cut due to a lack of funding I think that it is appalling that our government would even consider providing ‘aid’ to relatively prosperous Western nations.
It is clear that the UK foreign aid budget is now so large that the government can no longer even think of sensible things to spend it on. For that reason, I can accept the official UKIP position. I can support trimming our foreign aid budget to remove all the wasteful and unnecessary spending – and at a time of crisis in the NHS, the Party is absolutely right to say that the savings should be ploughed into our NHS to ensure that we provide better care for those who are sick and in the most need in our own country.
Jonathan Arnott MEP
UKIP, North East