WINCHESTER MP Steve Brine joined the chorus of opposition to plans to cut the foreign aid budget.

He spoke in the debate in the House of Commons yesterday over Government plans to cut £4billion, although rebels were denied a formal vote on the issue.

Mr Brine, spoke in support of retaining the commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on such aid instead of the planned 0.5 per cent.

He has held the international health brief at the Department of Health and Social Care, attending G7 and G20 meetings, and seen first-hand that what the UK does matters and influences others on the world stage.

“I have also seen much of the good work that we do. HIV is one of the many examples that I know about and am particularly worried about. An open letter published today by a wide range of organisations working in this field says that they fear that the reductions risk “setting the stage for a resurgence” of the AIDS pandemic.

“That sits at such odds with the domestic progress that we have made on HIV and the recommendations of the HIV Commission, which I was proud to be part of, on ending new HIV transmissions by 2030. What will happen around the world with the HIV reduction programmes is tragic.”

The MP rolled the clock back referring to the first meeting of his very popular series of public meetings which saw him bring the former International Development Minister, Stephen O’Brien to Winchester. Dozens of constituents attended the gathering, in St Paul’s Church, to the manifesto commitment that was made in 2010 and the way that was going to be legislated for.

He added: “For me, this is not just a manifesto commitment made then and in 2019; it is a personal commitment and one I stand by. I know that to meet it, we have to make choices, but it was a choice to make the pledge in the first place, and it is a political choice to keep it or not.”

There would be an impact in his own constituency. Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Winchester has obtained funding for several years to support overseas projects such as stroke services in west Africa, and paediatric maternity surgery and anaesthetic care in several east African countries. It has been funded thorough the Tropical Health and Education Trust, which receives money through UK Partnerships for Health Systems.

He added; “It has had its programme cut from 2020 through 2024 as a result of this reduction, so it is not just a one-year hit, as some say. It is devastated about the work it is now not going to be able to do.”

Mr Brine concluded: “If anybody on the Opposition or Government Benches, friend or foe of mine, or any of my colleagues speaking against this proposal today, thinks that we enjoy giving the Government a hard time, let me say, we do not. I am here to say what I think on behalf of the people I represent, and I think this is wrong. Even now, at this late stage, let us not do this. As I always say to constituents who disagree with me on this subject—and there will be many—charity does indeed begin at home; it just does not end there.”