Aid to be 'more sensibly distributed' to support UK policy goals, says Johnson


Britain's aid budget will be pushed into projects that promote the country's interests, Boris Johnson has said.

The Foreign Secretary said the money will be "more sensibly distributed" to support Britain's policy goals rather than only helping the world's poor.

His comments came as International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said the UK will provide a £21 million boost to an emergency aid fund amid warnings 2018 could be "even bleaker" than the past 12 months.

Mr Johnson told the Sunday Times that the way the £13 billion aid budget is spent is changing.

Cash will be diverted to places where it will support British efforts to deny safe havens to Islamist terrorists in Africa, Yemen and in refugee camps for Rohingya Muslims fleeing across the Burmese border into Bangladesh, the newspaper said.

"The old jam jars are being smashed," Mr Johnson said. "The cash will be more sensibly distributed with a view to supporting British foreign policy. You are going to see a lot of progress there on ODA (official development assistance) funding, supporting diplomatic activity in Africa, which is entirely sensible."

The Government is committed to spending 0.7% of national income on ODA - but the target is unpopular among some on the right.

Mr Johnson said Brexit would give the UK more control over how aid funding currently handed to European Union projects is spent.

"We are 25% of EU aid spending. We're a massive player in these things. In spite of our bulk and our overseas aid projection, we never got the influence in the (European) Commission that we needed," he said.

Meanwhile Ms Mordaunt confirmed extra support for the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

The money is expected to help provide food, critical health services, clean water and sanitation to millions of people, according to the Department for International Development (Dfid).

Ms Mordaunt said: "While 2017 was a year of harrowing humanitarian crises, the truth is 2018 could be even bleaker.

"When we see suffering, we instinctively want to help. Britons are big-hearted, open-minded and far-sighted - qualities that define a great nation.

"This year, through UK aid and further public donations, we helped avert famines in Nigeria and Somalia, gave emergency help to the survivors of the Caribbean hurricanes and provided a vital lifeline to people suffering from conflict in Syria and Yemen."

Dfid said the UK provided £55 million as part of its CERF core funding in 2017, with the additional £21 million available from January 1.