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MPs trade Twitter insults in row about overseas aid
Two local Conservative MPs traded insults in a Twitter spat over how much aid Britain gives to poorer countries.
An article by Menston and Burley-in-Wharfedale MP Philip Davies accused David Cameron’s flagship pledge to boost overseas aid as being “foolish”, which drew scorn from Ilkley MP Kris Hopkins.
Mr Hopkins accused Mr Davies of turning his back on the world’s poor in favour of a “little England, hang ‘em and flog ‘em world”.
And he pointed to a devastating United Nations report, highlighting how two million people have fled war-torn Syria, adding: “Don’t ask Philip for help!” In return, Mr Davies accused Mr Hopkins, a Cameron loyalist, of slavishly taking his views “from the whips office”.
The row broke out after Mr Davies penned an article for a Tory website urging his party to abandon its promise to set aside 0.7 per cent of income for international aid.
Mr Davies said: “Over recent decades, we have spent over £69bn on aid to Africa and yet the problems are just as entrenched now as they ever were.
“At home, the Government rightly wants to end welfare dependency – and yet, with overseas aid, it entrenches welfare dependency internationally, with many countries simply awaiting their next handout.
“And that is without the many millions that are siphoned off by dictators in many of the countries who are the recipients of our aid.”
Mr Davies pointed to China and India as firm evidence that it is “trade which gets people out of poverty rather than aid, which maintains people in poverty”.
The Prime Minister has made the 0.7 per cent aid pledge a key symbol – along with gay marriage – of his commitment to a more caring Conservatism. Taking to Twitter, Mr Hopkins said, sarcastically: “Yes it’s outrageous. We only spend the first 99.3 per cent of GDP on ourselves, before trying to save starving children.” In reply, Mr Davies tweeted: “Now, now, Kris, you shouldn’t be quite so intolerant of opinions that don’t come from the whips office.”
But Mr Hopkins replied: “Helping the very poorest nations, with food, water and health care is the Tory party I support. No whip required.”
Speaking afterwards, Mr Davies dismissed the spat as “good natured banter”, saying: “We disagree about this issue – about quite a few issues – but we get on well.
“I think you tend to have more banter with people that you get on with, rather than with people that you don’t.”
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