NEW Chancellor Jeremy Hunt hadn’t even unpacked his bags at No 11 before warning that “very difficult decisions” lay ahead and “efficiency measures” were needed.
This is ministers speaking out for higher taxes and spending cuts.
But before he begins wielding the blade that Liz Truss so deftly jabbed into his predecessor’s back, he must take a long, hard look at Britain’s foreign aid budget.
Despite recent cuts, this country still spends 0.5 per cent of its gross national income – billions of pounds – on “overseas development”, making us one of the most generous donors in the group of G7 countries.
And yet, while British families resort to food banks to survive and British patients wait years for much-needed surgeries, much of the money we send abroad is going towards vanity projects, doomed businesses and the imposition of Western PC values wasted against the reluctant local populace.
Just last year, Hunt voted against a government move to temporarily cut the aid budget. So it’s likely he’ll be reluctant to cut it any further.
But when this turns into an argument, Liz Truss, not a fan of extravagant handouts abroad, has to win.
A look at some of the aid money squandered over the years shows that there is a lot of fat to cut. My personal example is Yegna – the all-female pop group also known as Ethiopia’s Spice Girls.
They received £5.2million from our taxpayers’ money, on top of the £4million they raised in 2013 through Girl Hub, a UK funded project.
Even Rory Stewart, a former International Development Secretary, said earlier this year that since leaving office he has come to the conclusion that much of the UK foreign aid he is distributing is “a waste of time”.
“Traditionally, we’ve come up and decided what’s best for this community,” he said.
“We’ve flown wheat from the US or Europe at enormous cost, we’ve bought people goats or bicycles. . . A lot of what we did was, in hindsight, quite wasteful and paternalistic.”
British taxes in the foreign aid budget have propped up shopping malls in Nigeria, funded a Brazilian fitness company and funded restaurant chains in Vietnam and Peru.
Then there’s our International Climate Finance Portfolio, which spent part of its £11.6 billion budget to ensure a “complete overhaul of the concept of gender” among Mexican rural workers.
Two countries that have benefited from British aid over the years are India and Pakistan, whose leaders could have spent some of the billions they pour into nuclear weapons solving their own problems.
These states also refute the argument that pouring billions of pounds to bail out questionable regimes buys us much-needed influence abroad.
Where were their leaders when we needed their support in Ukraine? Cuddling with Vladimir Putin.
It is crystal clear now that we urgently need to put our own house in order.
At the moment we owe £2.1 trillion.
High-paying people can’t afford their mortgages, our small businesses are struggling, and we’re entering a winter when more people than ever before will be faced with grim choices of ‘heat or eat’.
So it looks insane for Hunt to do anything other than spend every pound he can scrape together to deal with this brutal cost-of-living crisis.
Beyond that, just look at the funding woes he’s inherited: a crumbling NHS still reeling from the pandemic, schools that can’t afford books and a welfare system on its knees.
The bottom line is that in this turbulent post-Covid world we now live in, we must follow standard airline safety wisdom – put on your own oxygen mask first before worrying about someone else’s.
Time to crack down on the oil mob
I AM sick and tired of the total chaos caused by the Just Stop Oil mob in London this week.
They have prevented ambulances from getting to hospitals, fire trucks from emergencies, children from school, and other hard-working people from getting to work.
The morning commute is something they probably don’t need to worry about as they seem to be free all day, every day, to protest. But what angered me even more is the inertia of the police.
Aside from a few arrests, they seem more intent on making tea for the protesters.
I saw on Thursday how effective the police can be in dealing with a disruptive mob.
It was at the London Stadium when rioting Anderlecht fans started ripping up seats and throwing them at our West Ham fans along with bottles, fireworks and all sorts of things.
The police came, waded in and within minutes had them sorted out, bringing calm and peace back.
We know they can quickly step in and take action to root out bad behavior.
So can I ask them to use the same tactics on the Just Stop Oil mob?
A baby gloom
MANY predicted lockdowns would lead to a baby boom.
However, it has emerged that nine months after the first lockdown in 2020, birth rates have fallen across Europe.
It seems to defy logic as many have been furloughed from their jobs and are stuck at home with their partners with seemingly endless free time.
But it turns out that in January 2021 there were 13 per cent fewer live births than expected in England and Wales and 14 per cent fewer in Scotland.
But I’m hardly surprised.
Aside from the obvious fears of giving birth in a pandemic, being locked away for weeks with your pajama-clad partner is hardly conducive to romance.
Boy will George be worth £1million jungle fee?
Is everyone as excited as I am to see Boy George go into the jungle?
The Culture Club singer has signed up to be part of the new series of I’m A Celebrity next month.
I can’t quite picture him throwing himself into pools of evildoers and eating live bugs.
But maybe the reported £1million payday has something to do with it!
If that number is right, it will be the largest entry fee in I Am A Celebrity history.
But I’m pretty sure it will be top notch entertainment to watch – and he’ll deserve every penny.
Footie taboo shame
It was expected to be a turning point for football.
“I hope you respect me: I’m gay,” tweeted former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
It was immediately seen as seismic news as so few footballers have made such bold statements.
When Blackpool striker Jake Daniels revealed he was gay earlier this year, he became Britain’s first male professional footballer since Justin Fashanu – that was more than 30 years ago.
A few Premier League footballers have also spoken publicly about their sexuality, but only after they retired from the game.
Why? Well, it’s hard not to conclude that men’s professional football is not a welcoming environment for gay men.
Which is a pity.
So Casillas’ tweet felt meaningful.
At least it was – until he deleted it two hours later and replaced it with a new tweet claiming it had been hacked but everything is “fine” now.
Too bad. It seemed to hammer in two damaging messages.
Either that trolls make it so difficult for footballers to come out that someone who claims to be gay is immediately filled with regret.
Or being a gay soccer player is so taboo and such a joke that someone who claims to come out is interpreted as some kind of bizarre prank made to make people laugh.
In any case, football culture needs to change in order for gay footballers – and by the law of average there are likely to be some – to feel comfortable being themselves.
After all, it’s what you do on the pitch that matters, not what you do off it.
Christine shows Paddy what he’s missing
WHEN we meet an ex, most of us want to look stunning.
But sometimes life isn’t fair and makes for those moments where you’re carrying out the garbage can in your sweatpants.
We want to do our best not because we want them back but because we want them to know that we have moved on and are doing very well, thank you.
Christine McGuinness was reportedly worried about seeing her ex Paddy at the National Television Awards this week.
But when I saw pictures of her looking drop dead gorgeous, I bet it was him who came out in an anxious sweat, not her.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6451925/karren-brady-jeremy-hunt-foreign-aid-poor-countries/ Our new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt needs to cut spending and he MUST start foreign aid