Theresa May confirms Tories will stick to 0.7% foreign aid spending commitment
The Conservative manifesto will contain a pledge to keep spending 0.7% of Britain's GDP on foreign aid, Theresa May has confirmed.
The Prime Minister said the policy "will remain" - despite mounting speculation that she was preparing to bow to pressure from Tory backbenchers and ditch it.
Earlier this week Microsoft founder Bill Gates warned that dropping the target could lead to lives being lost around the world.
That warning was echoed by the president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, who said yesterday it would be "very unfortunate for the UK to reduce its efforts".
But today she explicitly stated that the 0.7% target, which was made legally binding under the coalition government, would stay in place.
Speaking at a campaigning event in her Maidenhead constituency, Mrs May said the focus would be on how best to spend the money the UK donates overseas.
"Let’s be clear, the 0.7% commitment remains and will remain. What we need to do though is look at how that money is spent and make sure that we are able to spend that money in the most effective way," she said.
"I’m very proud of the record we have, of the children around the world who are being educated as a result of what the British taxpayer is doing in terms of its international aid.
"The ability that we had to be able to help in the Ebola crisis, the work we’ve been doing supporting Syrian refugees, I was in Jordan a couple of weeks ago in a school meeting some youngsters being given a good quality education, that’s one of things the UK is providing.
"So I’m very proud of the record that we have, we maintain that commitment but we have to make sure we’re spending that money as effectively as possible."