The government has won a vote in parliament to cut the foreign aid budget by £4bn - slashing the package from 0.7pc to 0.5pc of gross national income.

MPs voted for the cut by 333 to 298.

Twenty-four Conservative MPs across the country voted against the cut, including former prime minister Theresa May - who broke a three-line whip for the first time since being elected to parliament in 1997.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak prevented a larger Conservative rebellion by assuring concerned MPs that the cut would only be temporary until Britain has begun to recover from the economic woes of the pandemic.

Mid Norfolk’s George Freeman said on Twitter that he was among those concerned, tweeting that he had discussed the issue with Mr Sunak and with prime minister Boris Johnson.

On BBC Newsnight on Tuesday evening, Mr Freeman was asked whether he agreed with former Conservative prime minister Sir John Major - who said the government had “blatantly broken its word” by going back on a commitment made in the party’s 2019 manifesto and “should be ashamed of its decision.”

“No, I disagree,” said Mr Freeman.

He insisted: “I really believe in our aid commitment and if I felt that this was undermining our commitment to Global Britain, I’d have voted against it, let’s be really clear.

“But I don’t and the reason is, firstly, this is completely unprecedented. I think the public know that Covid has hit our public finances. It’s a crisis we’ve never seen before - we’re back to levels of debt not seen since the war.

Dereham Times: MP George Freeman. Picture: Matthew Usher.MP George Freeman. Picture: Matthew Usher. (Image: � ARCHANT NORFOLK 2016)

"Every pound we spend we’re borrowing and I needed to hear the chancellor today, as he did, say that this is temporary and he and the prime minister have both said to me and in the House we’re going back to 0.7% and more than that, they’ve set a clear roadmap to how we do it - with the OBR [Office for Budget Responsibility] holding our feet to the flames.”

Mr Freeman also said the cuts would be made to the least essential parts of the budget, and highlighted the UK’s international commitments outside the budget, such as on UN peacekeeping.

In Norfolk and Waveney, MPs voted entirely along party lines.


Peter Aldous (Conservative - Waveney)
Richard Bacon (Conservative - South Norfolk)
Duncan Baker (Conservative - North Norfolk)
George Freeman (Conservative - Mid Norfolk)
Brandon Lewis (Conservative - Great Yarmouth)
Jerome Mayhew (Conservative - Broadland)
Chloe Smith (Conservative - Norwich North)
Liz Truss (Conservative - South West Norfolk)
James Wild (Conservative - North West Norfolk)


Clive Lewis (Labour - Norwich South)