Tory government’s decision to cut vital humanitarian aid is abhorrent


Categories: News

This evening in the House of Commons I made my views, and the views of many of my constituents, clear when I spoke about the UK Government’s plans to slash the aid budget to some of the poorest and most needy people in the word by 60% .

In real terms this means an 80 per cent cut in aid for clean water projects, vital for so many things including health and children’s education. Drastic cuts are also being made to vital research, projects that bring so many benefits as well as employment both locally in Argyll & Bute as well as worldwide.

I am grateful to my SNP colleagues Ian Blackford MP, Chris Law MP and Dr Philippa Whitford MP for also taking part in this emergency debate and standing up and telling the House that this cruel and devastating decision by the Tory government to renege on election promises as well as our international obligations during a world health crisis is not only beyond belief but will directly result in thousands of deaths. Instead, the UK government has given the green light for millions of pounds to be spent funding a new arsenal of nuclear weapons.

Be in no doubt, this is a decision that will kill people. People are going to die as a direct result of this decision.

This is simply shameful and as Scottish MPs we would’ve hoped to see Scottish Tories stand up and voice their opposition. They did not. Instead, they were shamed by the likes of former Prime Minister Theresa May and former Secretary of State for Brexit, David Davies, amongst others who stood up to Boris Johnson and told him the UK’s reputation would be damaged irreparably on the global stage.

At a time when other countries are stepping up their funding, the UK is walking away from those most in need during a global pandemic. As Ian Blackford said in his speech, ‘none of us is safe until we are all safe’ and this means doing what we can to help those most in need of safety, security and sanitation, not abandoning them.

Here is the link to the speech I gave in parliament and below is the full speech I intended to give but was cut short due to time restraints in the debate.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker,

The decision by this Government to take essential, life-saving money away from helping the world’s poorest people, is absolutely shameful and has confirmed once-and-for-all that “Global Britain” has already lost its moral compass.

And for that idea to have emerged from an Integrated Review of Security simply beggar’s belief.

The idea that by making the world’s poorest people even poorer, somehow makes us safer is an absolute nonsense… and takes “gaslighting” to new extremes.

Does this Government really expect us to believe that the best way to make the people of the United Kingdom more safe and more secure is to slash vital humanitarian aid to those parts of the world which are already riven by conflict, war and famine, thereby forcing tens of millions of desperate people to uproot their families and go in search of a better, secure future?

It’s nonsense… and they know it is nonsense.

And with breath-taking insensitivity to add insult to injury, that same Integrated Review announced that the money which should have gone on providing humanitarian aid to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, should instead be spent on increasing the United Kingdom’s stockpile of nuclear warheads.

Mr Speaker,

The benches opposite might not like it, but this country has a fundamental moral obligation to help those countries in what we now call “the developing world”.

Not just because we can afford to help them … which in itself is reason enough, but mainly because this country is in no small way responsible for the situation in which they now find themselves.

For more than a century, the United Kingdom grew rich and powerful on the backs of world’s poor.
The British Empire invaded, conquered, divided, and plundered half the world, very often leaving behind an impoverished wasteland in its wake.

And so, it’s about time the UK woke up to the fact that it has a moral responsibility to assist those it abandoned to live with the consequences of British imperialism… not running away from that responsibility.

Mr. Speaker,

The decision to slash the Foreign Aid budget is wrong… very wrong; and what’s more, they know it is.

This isn’t like pulling the plug on the building of a new school.

This isn’t putting off the construction of a new by-pass because money is tight.

This isn’t suspending the restoration of the Palace of Westminster because we can no longer justify spending the billions it’ll cost.

Be in no doubt, this is a decision that will kill people. People are going to die as a direct result of this decision.

Ask any of the aid agencies. Ask any NGO you wish. Ask any government of the countries currently dependent on UK aid and they’ll tell you that some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world will die as a result of this decision.

Mr. Speaker,

At the end of this debate, anyone voting against this motion when the House divides later this afternoon, cannot pretend that they did not know.
Or that they did not understand the consequences of their actions.

Mr Speaker, This isn’t global Britain; this is drawbridge Britain