Editorials, Letter To Editor Discuss U.K.’s Approach To Foreign Aid Following Brexit

The Guardian: The Guardian view on development aid: do it better, but do it
Editorial Board

“…British development money has saved, changed, and improved millions of lives in the past five years alone. … It is worth spelling this out, partly because there has been a chorus of protest for months in parts of the media, complaining of ‘foreign aid madness’: a campaign complete with outlandish examples, some ‘simply incorrect’ stories (according to DfID officials) — and convenient silence on the positive case for spending on aid. Incredibly, the new secretary of state for international development [Priti Patel] appears to sympathize. … [T]he positive case for aid is not being made. Unmentioned go the obligations that Britain has to poorer countries, because of the damage it has caused through empire, climate change, and pernicious supply chains. Perhaps hamstrung by the lobbying laws or the need to secure their own DfID funding, Oxfam, ActionAid, and the like are mutely allowing the new minister and her supporters to trash the case for aid. How best to do development aid is always open to evaluation. That it needs doing should not be. The NGOs must get their act together, fast” (10/26).

Financial Times: A muddle-headed approach to foreign aid
Editorial Board

“…Britain’s Secretary for International Development … Priti Patel … appears intent on using her department for … making explicit links between national commercial interests and the budget she oversees … The idea of using the aid budget to promote the export of U.K. goods and services is fanciful at two levels: legislative and financial. … What Britain can do is channel private sector and development expertise toward supporting the type of infrastructure investment that African and other developing countries need to participate in the trading system on more competitive terms. … Theresa May, the prime minister, has pledged to uphold a legally binding commitment to spend 0.7 percent of the national budget on development aid. But her government runs the risk of chipping this away by stealth, channeling the fund to other aims such as promoting trade, curbing migration, and financing the Foreign Office. This would be a huge mistake. Britain has become a leading force in development and has won incalculable influence from it. … If the government is serious about staying engaged with the world after Brexit, it must maintain this leading role. The rhetoric coming out of the Department for International Development will damage Britain’s credibility and interests” (10/25).

Financial Times: U.K. will do more, not less, to help the world’s poorest
Priti Patel, U.K. secretary of state for international development

In a letter to the editor, Patel writes, “Sir, The picture painted by your editorial ‘Patel’s muddle-headed stance on the foreign aid budget’ (October 26) is, unusually, not accurate. In a post-Brexit world the U.K. will do more to help the world’s poorest, not less. My department’s raison d’être is to end extreme poverty forever. … One of my first acts in office was to increase the U.K.’s contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria — a highly effective multilateral organization that will use our taxpayers’ money to save millions of lives in coming years. This government will always reject any suggestion of a return to the inefficient and wasteful ‘tied aid’ of the past. The International Development Act remains firmly in place. But I make no apology for demanding more from every organization we work with, or for seeking to champion economic growth, open markets, and greater trade opportunities for developing countries. This is the long-term route out of poverty. The world’s poorest, and U.K. taxpayers, deserve nothing less” (10/26).

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