FOREIGN aid will be slashed by £2.9 billion this year – and No 10 will pull funding for China as diplomatic relations continue to nosedive.
The £14bn budget will be slimmed down to reflect the shrinkage in the economy caused by the coronavirus crisis, Dominic Raab confirmed last night.
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Aid spending was set in law at 0.7 per cent of national income by former PM David Cameron.
The foreign secretary insisted the cut is needed due to the "severe economic downturn as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic".
In a letter to MPs he said spending in areas key to the UK's national interest, like science and research, will be ring-fenced.
He wrote: "When the economy shrinks, our aid spend also reduces."
Government sources told The Sun they've got funding to China in their sights as relations with Beijing grow ever more frosty.
One said: “It's definitely true to say middle income countries have not been protected in the way poor countries have been in this year’s spending.
“We are focussing our money on the 14 most vulnerable countries. Because of that we've cut more spending from middle countries. China would definitely fall into that category."
Money will continue to be prioritised for lifting the world's poorest billion people out of poverty.
Programmes on climate change, girls education, tackling coronavirus, and media and religious freedom will also escape the axe.
Mr Raab said the changes would "maintain operational capacity" and "ensure the UK is a global force for good" for less.
To save the money some schemes will see their funding cut whilst others will be delayed. A handful will be scrapped altogether.
The Foreign Office will take control of aid spending when it absorbs the Department for International Development in September.
No 10 says the new "super department" will be better at using the gargantuan budget to promote Britain's interests on the world stage.
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