ALISTER Jack has said he will “certainly not” resign over the Conservative Government’s plan to cut foreign aid despite his concerns.

The Scottish Secretary said he didn’t want ministers to decrease international aid budget by £4 billion – breaking a manifesto promise opposed to a cut – as it was a “terribly important” policy.

However, the Dumfries MP told BBC Radio Scotland yesterday morning that he would not be leaving the government in protest like fellow Tory minister Baroness Liz Sugg.

“I think overseas aid from the wealthier nations is terribly important, but I’m certainly not going to resign over it,” he said.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced international aid expenditure would be cut from 0.7 to 0.5% of UK GDP when he set out his spending review for next year on Wednesday.

He said the current level of spending would be difficult to justify to the public as the national debt continued to soar amidst the worst economic crisis in 300 years.

It prompted Baroness Sugg to resign as a Foreign Office minister, calling the decision “fundamentally wrong”, while a series of backbench Tory MPs condemned the move. Three former prime ministers called for the change to be dropped, including David Cameron, who enshrined the 0.7% target in law in 2015.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the move, which was also attacked by church leaders and charities, was “deplorable” and pandering to the right-wing of the Tory party.

Asked about the criticism, Jack said: “I would rather overseas aid had stayed at 0.7%. I think that goes without saying, because it is in law and it was a commitment.

“But we are facing unprecedented times and challenges. We’ve reduced it to 0.5%. That’s still £10bn. We’ve protected the girls in education policy within that money.

READ MORE: Rishi Sunak slammed for ‘deplorable’ cut to aid that may cause ‘100,000 deaths’

“But we are still second in the G7 for overseas aid. I think only Germany are ahead of us. We’re still more than pulling our weight.

“Hopefully when our economy recovers we’ll be able to raise the figure back to 0.7%.”

Asked if he would follow Baroness Sugg and resign from his position given he was “clearly unhappy about this cut”, Jack said: “It’s not that I’m not happy. I recognise that it has to be done.

“I would prefer we are at 0.7% because I think overseas aid from the wealthier nations is terribly important, but I’m certainly not going to resign over it.

“I recognise we have a global pandemic and we have borrowing the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Second World War, so we have to take tough decisions.”

He said 0.5% was still a “very good and credible figure” and denied it was politically driven.

He said: “I think it’s being responsible and look after people at home, prioritising our people at home who are going into economic hardship.”

Despite the Tory general election manifesto promising not to raise income tax, national insurance or VAT, Jack said tax hikes could not be ruled out to cope with Covid.

He continued: “That is a matter for the Chancellor.

“Nothing is ruled in and nothing is ruled out, but the key is to try and re-inflate the economy as quickly as possible, and then we can make decisions after that.”

Reminded a ban on tax rises had been in the 2019 manifesto, Jack responded: “Yes.”

Asked if that might change, he said: “It’s a matter for the Chancellor. It’s a matter for him for the future. I’m telling you the government’s strategy at the moment, which is to re-inflate the economy as quickly as possible.”