Theresa May has pledged to maintain the government’s commitment to spending 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) on international development aid should the Conservative Party win the general election.
Speaking at a GSK factory in her Maidenhead constituency this afternoon, the prime minister said she was “proud” of the UK’s record around the world.
“Let’s be clear, the 07.% commitment remains and will remain,” she said.
The decision not to ditch the pledge first made by David Cameron will upset many Tory backbench MPs who believe it should be scrapped and the money spent on domestic services or on defence.
The move is also likely to anger some newspapers, including the Daily Mail, which have campaigned for the development budget to be slashed.
Britain is spent around £13.3bn on foreign aid in 2016 and is one of just six countries that has met the UN’s 0.7% target for spending.
May said while the commitment be included in the Tory manifesto, the government would “look at how that money is spent” to make sure it was used “in the most effective way”.
“I am very proud of the record we have, of the children around the world who are being educated as a result of the British government, of the British taxpayer, of its international aid, the ability we had to help in the Ebola crisis, the work that we have been doing supporting Syrian refugees. I was in Jordan a couple of weeks ago meeting some youngsters being given a good quality education,” she said.
May’s comments came after Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury, said Britain’s aid budget should be seen as a “badge of honour” for the country.
And yesterday Microsoft founder Bill Gates used a speech in London to praise Britain’s foreign aid Budget as “visible proof of the UK’s goodwill and humanity”.
“Britain should be praised, not ridiculed, for sticking to this commitment,” he told the Royal United Services Institute.
Answering questions in Maidenhead, May also notably refused to rule out dropping the triple-lock for pensions.
The rule, introduced by Cameron in 2012, guarantees that state pensions rise each year by whichever is the highest out of the consumer price index, average earnings or 2.5 per cent.
Chancellor Philip Hammond has said extending the triple-lock into the next parliament would be subject to “review” and accused Labour, which has pledged to keep it, of wanting to “spray” around money.