James MacCleary, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Lewes, has written to Maria Caulfield, Lewes's Conservative MP, urging her not to break her election commitment on international development spending by voting to abandon the UK’s 0.7% of GNI target in a potential vote today.
In the 2019 General Election, Conservative MPs including Maria Caulfield stood on a manifesto promise to “proudly maintain our commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of GNI on development”.
The Government announced plans in 2020 to cut the development budget from 0.7% to 0.5% of GNI.
On Monday 7 June, if selected by the Speaker, a vote will be held in the House of Commons on whether to reinstate the 0.7% target. Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Lewes, James MacCleary, has challenged Maria Caulfield to follow through on their election pledge to support the 0.7%, and vote to retain the target.
James MacCleary said:
"We need an MP who will keep their word. When Maria Caulfield stood for Parliament in 2019, she pledged to support the 0.7% target on aid spending. Now she has an opportunity to deliver on that promise.
“If Maria Caulfield fails to support the target, she will be breaking a promise to constituents and the world’s poorest. Every vote will matter - so Maria Caulfield's decision could have a huge impact on the millions of people around the world that need our help. It will also reinforce the growing view amongst local residents that Maria Caulfield cannot be trusted to keep her promises to voters.
"Other Conservative MPs including Theresa May and David Davis have joined call on the government to retain the 0.7% target. It is something this country can comfortably afford to do and cutting it will cost lives and devastate some of the poorest communities around the world. The government has made a promise and, for once, I hope they will actually keep it.
“The Liberal Democrats have supported international development spending for over sixty years and enshrined the 0.7% target into law in 2015. It is the right thing to do, both for the UK, and those who need our help. Today, Maria Caulfield must vote to reinstate the 0.7% target.”
Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs and International Development Spokesperson Layla Moran MP said:
“The Conservative Government’s decision to cut development spending has done extraordinary damage to Britain’s reputation with our allies and partners from across the globe. Now is the time for leadership - but instead, the Conservatives want Britain to hide from its responsibilities during a global pandemic.
“Every Conservative MP stood on a manifesto commitment to the 0.7% target. If they vote to cut the development budget next week, they will be breaking a promise to their constituents and to the world’s poorest.
“Liberal Democrats will vote to reinstate the 0.7% target, which we enshrined in law. International development spending protects the most vulnerable people around the world and gives them a better chance at life.
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The letter sent to Maria Caulfield MP.
I am writing to you regarding your party’s plans to abandon the 0.7% of GNI target for international development spending.
This month the eyes of the world are on the UK, as we host the G7 summit in Cornwall. The last two times the UK has hosted the G7/G8 - in 2005 and in 2013 - we have used our platform on the world stage to advocate that the world’s largest economies should meet their obligations to the world’s poorest. Yet this year, the Conservatives are shirking from our legal and moral responsibilities, in the middle of a global pandemic. This does huge damage to Britain’s reputation.
In 2019, you stood on a manifesto promise to “proudly maintain our commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of GNI on development”. But, despite the commitment you made to the people of Lewes constituency your party has tried to force through a cut to our development spending and abandoned the 0.7% target.
However, now there is an opportunity for you to demonstrate that you will stand by the commitment you made in 2019. Today, a vote will likely be held in Parliament on whether to reinstate the 0.7% target. If selected, it is of utmost importance that this vote succeeds. How you vote will make a huge difference. You could be the person that ensures that the UK does meet its commitments to protect millions of the most vulnerable people around the world - from war zones like Yemen to supporting girls’ education.
If you vote to cut our development spending, you will be breaking a promise to your constituents and to the world’s poorest. Will you commit to vote to retain the 0.7% target today?
Liberal Democrats have been making the case for UK development spending for almost sixty years. It’s not just the morally right thing to do, it’s the sensible step to take. As the pandemic has taught us, we are not safe until we are all safe. That’s why we enshrined the 0.7% target in law in 2015. And that’s why all Liberal Democrat MPs will stand by their manifesto promises to their constituents, and vote to reinstate the target on 7th June.
I urge you to do likewise - to vote to reinstate the 0.7% target, fulfilling your promise to the people of Lewes constituency and helping millions of people around the world.
Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesperson for Lewes constituency