Brendan Clarke-Smith grilled on National Insurance increase

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GB News’ Colin Brazier questioned Bassetlaw MP Brendan Clarke-Smith that it seemed “a coincidence” the tax required to plug the National Insurance hole was the same as the 0.5 percent of GDP Foreign Aid budget as he asked what Britons must think handing out cash to other countries when they themselves need it.

Mr Brazier said: “It looks like a coincidence: 12 billion for Foreign Aid, 12 billion is the tax hole, the tax that will be generated by this 1.25 percent increase in National Insurance…

“I have a feeling in your constituency… many of your constituents will say why are we spending all this money on foreign aid when we are still increasing taxes?”

Mr Clarke-Smith acknowledged that is likely the view of a number of his constituents as he noted Britain is “still one of the most generous countries in the world” with its aid budget.

He added that was still the case even with the cut last year which saw the Foreign Aid budget cut to 0.5 percent of Gross National Income, down from 0.7 percent.

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But he stressed how there are people in his constituency who would want to see the UK foreign aid budget cut all together and put down to “zero” of the UK’s GDP. 

But the Conservative noted: “At the same time, if you asked those same people do you think its right that we help people where we can… 

“You look at what we have done with AstraZeneca and the vaccines… people are all for that and doing the right thing in the world.”

He stressed however that people want to see their taxes spent “in the right places” adding that if you are cranking up peoples cost of living through National Insurance, “you need to justify that.”

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Mr Clarke-Smith acknowledged the Government broke a manifesto pledge in making Britons pay for National Insurance saying it was “a very difficult decision” but stressed it was important given the circumstances of the pandemic.

The Conservative explained: “People can’t see a doctor, we need to clear the NHS backlog and we do need to sort out social care. Unfortunately it is a tough decision that has had to be made.”

The foreign aid budget cut, announced in April 2021 includes allocations of £1.3 billion to address the pandemic and support global health resilience.

While £0.9 billion of Overseas Development Allocations (ODA) has gone to humanitarian preparedness and responses.

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The budget to China was cut by 95 percent to £900,000, to be spent on human rights initiatives.

This year the Foreign Office is earmarked to spend £8.1 billion in ODA, 80 percent of the U.K.’s total aid budget. Around half of this money will go towards programs in Africa, with a “major shift” to East Africa.

Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary at the time, said this is because Britain identifies “a national strategic interest” in the region.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has vowed to return Foreign Aid spending to 0.7 percent by the end of 2024.

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