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IN 2015 Britain gave away £12.1bn ($18.5bn) in foreign aid, more than any country bar America. It was one of just six countries to meet the UN’s target of spending 0.7% of GDP on international assistance. Yet although the leaders of all Britain’s main political parties support this generosity, grumbles that the money should stay at home are growing louder.

For the past few months newspapers have been digging up examples of exorbitant aid-industry salaries and alleged mis-spending. According to the Daily Mail, £5.2m of British cash went to an Ethiopian pop group (defenders point out that the band was part of a project to change attitudes about women’s roles). Some backbench Conservatives have called for aid to be redirected to pay for social care for elderly Britons. The UK Independence Party wants to spend it on homeless veterans instead.

The appointment of Priti Patel as head of the Department for International Development in July raised hawks’ hopes, since she had previously called for the department to be abolished. So far, though, Ms Patel has done little to live up to her ferocious reputation...Continue reading

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