THE UK is responding to disasters in Tonga and elsewhere ‘with one hand tied behind its back’ due to cuts to aid budgets, an Oxford MP has said.

Asking a question in the House of Commons on the eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano and subsequent tsunami in Tonga, Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran pressed the Government on why the UK has not promised any ‘new bilateral aid’ for Tonga.

She said: “Does the minister regret the decision to cut aid to our Commonwealth partners more generally by £500 million? And does she accept that the aid cut has left us responding to disasters like this with one hand tied behind our backs?”

Ms Moran said that during the COP26 climate change talks, attention was ‘rightly given to the vulnerability of small island developing states like Tonga’, adding: “Does the minister not agree that unless we help Tonga fully recover from this crisis, then it will struggle to put the necessary mitigation in place for the even greater climate crisis?”

See also: College to expand T Level offering this year

Foreign Office minister Vicky Ford said Tonga and the UK have ‘very deep, historical ties and are both Commonwealth members’.

She told MPs: “We are working together with other Commonwealth members, including Fiji, New Zealand and Australia, to support Tonga as it recovers from this damage.

“It is absolutely vital that we should be working hand in hand with our partners.”

She added: “We are looking at further support and the deployment of the UN crisis expert will help coordinate that response, which is why we are funding that response.”

Referencing budgets, she said: “We did maintain our rapid response capabilities in close coordination with the Australian government.”

The minister said: “We remain a world leader in international development. In 2020, we were the world’s third largest donor.”

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tik Tok

Got a story for us? Send us your news and pictures here

List an event for free on our website here