Tobias Ellwood warns of ‘message’ sent by cuts to foreign aid
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Tobias Ellwood spoke to Express.co.uk and was concerned that the cuts to foreign aid from 0.7 percent to 0.5 percent of GDP will limit Britain’s ability to be a strong international actor who exerts influence. The Conservative MP warned that a rumoured 10,000 army personnel cut means the UK would be unable to understand the world and its issues better and will weaken its diplomatic reach. He added that the cuts could mean that international humanitarian issues are unable to be fixed at source and warned the UK may see more illegal migration or bigger warzones.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Ellwood discussed the Integrated Review which was presented to the House of Commons on March 16.
The review looked at UK defence and what the Government highlights as its dangers.
Mr Ellwood said: “You don’t just work out what your threats are, the next question the Integrated Review tries to ask is, so what do we want to do about it.
“What is our role on the international stage, how are we going to exert influence, how are we going to work with allies and so forth.
“And the combination of those two, the threats and our ambitions, then leads you to the design of your defence posture.
“What should your military architecture look like and how are you going to use your leverages and your ability at your disposal.
“And we have diplomatic reach, we have hard power and then that soft power is quite critical as well.
“Our ability to understand the world and know where to put aid into and not only that but rally other countries to follow suit is absolutely critical.
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“So it isn’t sending that global Britain message that I think we all want to see promoted when we’re actually cutting back on aid even during these difficult times during the pandemic.”
The UK announced that it would cut its foreign aid budget from 0.7 percent of GDP to 0.5 percent.
The Government also halved the aid it sends to Yemen which has been called the “worst humanitarian crisis” in the modern world.
Charities have criticised the moves with some saying it is a “death sentence” for civilians who rely on international support.
Mr Ellwood also disapproved of reports which say around 10,000 personnel would be cut from the UK’s already small army.
He added the military has been “exemplary” during the pandemic and Britain’s desire for a modern and technologically advanced military ignores the roles that soldiers and others play on the battlefield.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed during the Integrated Review that he would lift the cap of nuclear weapons from 180 to 260.
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The Integrated Review pinpointed Russia as the “most acute” threat to the UK’s defences as Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Russia is capable of using “nefarious” weapons like misinformation and Novichok.
China was also highlighted as having the biggest “systematic” threat to the UK as the Government said the easter country’s values conflict with liberal democracies.
Despite this, the UK aims to build ties and strong relations in the Indo-Pacific region and to secure trading partners.
The review also stated pandemics would become more common in the future as the world’s population becomes resistant to medicines.
Terrorism was also deemed a “major” concern with fears a nuclear or chemical attack could take place within the next decade.
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