The Daily Telegraph

Cameron: We must adapt on foreign aid

Foreign Secretary says new internatio­nal aid plan ‘must benefit British people as well as the world’

- By Ben Riley-smith POLITICAL EDITOR

‘It has the capacity to save and improve lives. It is a moral mission’ ‘It is clear to me Rishi Sunak is a strong and capable Prime Minister’

BRITAIN’S foreign aid approach must “adapt to new realities”, Lord Cameron will say today, as he endorses a plan underpinne­d by the shelving of his flagship 0.7 per cent pledge.

In a foreword to the Government’s new internatio­nal developmen­t strategy, the former prime minister will say the approach must benefit British people as well as the world.

The contributi­on amounts to one of Lord Cameron’s first substantia­l policy declaratio­ns since his surprise return to the Government when appointed Foreign Secretary last Monday.

As part of his Conservati­ve Party modernisat­ion project when leader, Lord Cameron made spending 0.7 per cent of GDP on foreign aid a central promise which was written into law.

But Rishi Sunak, when Chancellor, quietly shelved the target, instead vowing to spend 0.5 per cent on foreign aid and return to 0.7 per cent only when government debt starts falling.

The Prime Minister has also been accused of hollowing out the overseas aid budget by using some of the money to pay for hotel bills for housing Ukrainian refugees in the UK.

The white paper being unveiled on Monday was put together by Andrew Mitchell, a Foreign Office minister who has championed developmen­t aid.

It contains endorsemen­ts from leading figures in the aid debate including Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder and philanthro­pist, and Dr Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In line with the strategy’s release, the Government has announced up to £100million for food security crises and their impacts in the world’s hunger and malnutriti­on hotspots.

The white paper is underpinne­d by the decision to spend 0.5 per cent of GDP on foreign aid rather than 0.7 per cent, though the strategy focuses on approach not budget issues.

In Lord Cameron’s foreword, seen by

The Daily Telegraph, he praises the “sustainabl­e developmen­t goals” set at a United Nations summit in 2015, when he was prime minister.

He goes on: “This destinatio­n remains unchanged. But our approach needs to adapt to new realities. The white paper captures how we are doing that.”

He adds: “Today’s answer cannot be about rich countries ‘doing developmen­t’ to others. We need to work together as partners, shaping narratives which developing countries own and deliver. Developmen­t cannot be a closed shop, where we try to help other countries and communitie­s without heeding their vision for the future.

“Developmen­t has the capacity to save and improve lives. It is part of a moral mission. And in a world of illegal migration, climate change, instabilit­y and conflict, it is essential for our own security and prosperity as well. We are global. We are interconne­cted. We need to do developmen­t smartly, for the benefit of the British people and the world.”

Back in November 2020, Lord Cameron criticised the abandonmen­t of the 0.7 per cent aid target, saying: “These were brilliant things that we were doing, and I think it’s sad that we are standing back from that.”

On entering Government last week, he addressed his past criticisms of Mr Sunak, tweeting that “though I may have disagreed with some individual decisions, it is clear to me that Rishi Sunak is a strong and capable Prime Minister”.

The white paper’s release has been timed to coincide with the Global Food Security Summit which is being held in London.

Mr Mitchell, an internatio­nal developmen­t minister, said: “Many children go to bed hungry and malnourish­ed. At this summit, the UK and its partners will be united in our determinat­ion to change that. Cutting edge science and innovative partnershi­ps will help Britain create a healthier, more secure and prosperous world for us all.

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