Swing voters give Conservative MPs warning over aid cuts

Almost half of voters in Conservative Party marginal constituencies are calling on the government to maintain its commitment to funding international aid.

A survey has found that 46% of those in Conservative/Lib Dem marginal constituencies want the UK government to commit to spend the same as UK allies on international aid.

A higher proportion want funding to be increased, the survey also found. While 17% believe the UK government should spend more, 13% believe less should be spent on aid.

In addition, 45% in Conservative/Lib Dem marginal constituencies believe the UK has a “moral obligation to help the world’s poorest people, even when our own economy is going through a difficult time”, according to the British Foreign Policy Group, which carried out the survey.

“While international development may not always be considered as fundamental as other foreign policy and security investments, it remains a point of pride and identity for many Britons,” said the global affairs think tank.

It added: “When asked which emotion best sums up the UK’s commitment to being a world leader in international aid, the largest single group of respondents say they feel pride (25%).

“Although the coronavirus pandemic has evidentially sharpened minds about the scarcity of state resources, it has also drawn attention to the connectivity we share as part of the global community, and the fact that poor health outcomes can compromise the security of all people.”

The findings have been revealed in the Group’s research report Swing Voters and the Electoral Significance of Foreign Aid: A Study of Conservative -Lib Dem Marginals.

It has been released as the UK government looks to cut international aid spending by around £4bn, from 0.7% of gross national income to 0.5%.

A group of around 30 Conservative MPs are calling on ministers to restore the 0.7% threshold.

Last month, international aid organisation network Bond announced details of the impact of government aid cuts on its programmes.

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