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U.K. Prime Minister May Ambiguous About Continuing To Meet Foreign Aid Spending Target; Bill Gates Urges Support For Spending Level During General Election Campaign

Devex: U.K. snap election: Are aid commitments at risk?
“Concerns are being raised about the United Kingdom’s government’s commitment to spending 0.7 percent of gross national income on foreign aid, after the prime minister appeared to repeatedly dodge questions about it ahead of a snap election on June 8. The Conservative Party’s commitment to maintaining the U.K. Department for International Development as a standalone entity — separate from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office or the Department for International Trade, for example — may also be vulnerable…” (Anders, 4/20).

Financial Times: Bill Gates defends Britain’s foreign aid spending
“Bill Gates has urged Theresa May to protect aid spending in her general election manifesto, saying that any cuts would ‘cost lives’ and undermine British influence in poor countries. He said that the Department for International Development, with whom his Gates Foundation partners, is ‘widely recognized as one of the most effective, efficient, and innovative aid agencies in the world’…” (Mance, 4/19).

The Guardian: Lives at risk if Tories choose to ditch U.K. foreign aid pledge, says Bill Gates
“Speaking to the Guardian on the second day of the general election campaign, the billionaire philanthropist spelled out the potential consequences of dropping the existing pledge to spend 0.7 percent of GDP on aid, hours after the prime minister refused to recommit to it. … Gates said: ‘The big aid givers now are the U.S., Britain, and Germany — those are the three biggest and if those three back off, a lot of the ambitious things going on with malaria, agriculture, and reproductive health simply would not get done’…” (Wintour/Mason, 4/20).

The Independent: Theresa May opens door to dropping Britain’s international aid target after election
“…The aid target of spending 0.7 percent of GNI on development assistance is unpopular with some right-wing newspapers and politicians, but was supported by David Cameron’s government as a way of helping the poorest. … The Prime Minister’s ambiguity comes as computer billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates says the Brexit vote must not be used as an excuse for Britain to drop its aid commitments. Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Independent, the world’s richest man said: ‘We are hopeful that the commitment to 0.7 percent — and things like neglected diseases — stays strong’…” (Stone, 4/19).

International Business Times: Bill Gates warns Theresa May cutting foreign aid spending will put lives at risk
“…The Guardian noted that May dodged a question on aid funding pledge on Wednesday (19 April) at Prime Minister’s Question time, choosing only to tell a Labour MP that the U.K. is meeting its commitment on foreign aid now. … Kate Osamor, the shadow development secretary said: ‘Bill Gates is right to point out that cutting the U.K. international development budget could cost lives. Theresa May must not step away from our commitment to foreign aid. She talks about a Global Britain but she seems keener to turn us into a Little England’…” (Middleton, 4/20).

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