Bournemouth East MP Mr Ellwood said he was deeply concerned at the impact cuts to foreign aid would have on UK influence around the world – and warned China was all too ready to fill the vacuum. Earlier Mr Ellwood had taken to social media to voice his concern after widespread reports that the UK’s foreign aid budget – which totals £17billion annually – could be scaled back dramatically after the merger of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Department for International Development (DfiD).
He tweeted: “I will not support this.
“It’s shortsighted in failing to appreciate how well targeted aid can strengthen relationships & open up new markets-thus helping the Treasury.”
Reacting to Mr Ellwood’s post, Mr Kawczynski told Express.co.uk: “I am very concerned that the chairman of the Defence Select Committee Tobias Ellwood is questioning publicly on his Twitter any notion of reducing foreign aid.
“I think this is very wrong, very dangerous and at this time of national crisis we have to massively reduce international aid but make sure it is spent on things that benefit the United Kingdom but also the global community.
“So bring more of the international aid budget into laboratories and research centres here in the United Kingdom on dealing with diseases, for example research into HIV, all the things that affect the United Kingdom that also affect third world countries.”
“So whether it is to do with medical research, whether it to do with planning innovative research into agricultural practices, and making greater yield in production costs, all of those things can be utilised to the benefit of the United Kingdom whilst also long-term having a beneficial effect on third-world countries.”
Mr Kawczynski added: “There must be tens of thousands of areas whereby this £17billion a year which is currently spent overseas can be better utilised here in the United Kingdom creating local jobs and giving the economy an important boost at this very difficult time.
“Creating employment and helping research chemical and agricultural institutions, which will have long-term benefits for the third world.”
Mr Kawczynski added: “I think there is going to be a big, big battle ahead of us to balance our budget now but as a nation that is £2trillion in debt and with big interest payments of £50billion a year, we need a radical rethink as to whether we can continue in the short to medium term to sent £17-£18billion a year in British taxpayers’ money overseas.
“I would be very grateful if you would ask Express readers to join me in a campaign of lobbying their members of Parliament about the absolute essential need now to completely re-evaluate this agenda of spending £17billion a year overseas.
“Cameron and Clegg at the time ten years ago decided to instigate 0.7 percent of GDP to international aid without any comprehension of how this was going to be paid for at a time of fundamental national domestic crisis.”
Mr Ellwood, while not directly responding to Mr Kawczynski, told Express.co.uk: “There is a bigger picture here, there is an internationalist element which I tend to focus on.
“Britain’s reputation across the world is actually formed in a large part by our soft power, how we stand up for the international rules-based order and that is done through our aid budget.
“We don’t see the benefits of that so vividly here in the UK and it is understandable that there could calls see the budget reduced.
“But we are missing a trick in appreciating that we need to advance and develop new markets.
“I want to see the aid budget work in tandem with our security budget to support countries upstream, strengthen our bonds and develop trading partnerships.
“That would make far better sense and be more of a logical strategy than simply cutting the budget in the first place.”
Mr Ellwood, who is also a member of Parliament’s China Research Group, also stressed a second aspect, which he said was just as important.
He said: “There is a real reason why we want to tackle poverty and poor governance across Africa and the Middle East.
“When we pull out, when we drop back, others then follow suit and we leave a vacuum, and that leads to terrorism, extremism and indeed even hostile states such as Russia and China filling that vacuum and pursuing a very different agenda.
“There are now dozens of countries which are now ensnared in Chinese debt with their One Belt, One Road programme and long-term commitments which mean they can no longer criticise China and then have to become subservient to China’s thinking.
“And that is actually fuelling a bi-polar world, which again is not in Britain’s interests.”