Kay Burley Slams Tory Chairman Over UK Help For Turkey: 'They’re Relying On Countries Like Us'

New Tory chairman Greg Hands was pressed on the UK's support for Turkey
New Tory chairman Greg Hands was pressed on the UK's support for Turkey

New Tory chairman Greg Hands was pressed on the UK's support for Turkey

New Tory chairman Greg Hands has been put on the spot over the government’s support for Turkey following the devastating earthquake in the country which has so far killed more than 9,500 people.

Sky News presenter Kay Burley demanded to know why the government had decided to slash the UK’s foreign aid budget and when it would be restored to previous levels.

Under David Cameron and Theresa May, the UK spent 0.7% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on international development.

But that was cut to 0.5% by Rishi Sunak when he was chancellor in the wake of the Covid pandemic.

Appearing on Sky News on his first full day as Conservative chairman, Hands insisted the amount the UK spends on aid “shapes up very favourably ... and we have the commitment to restore the aid budget as soon as we’re able”.

But Burley, who is in Turkey, hit back: “We’re the six largest economy in the world, you can see this tented city behind me, these people are sleeping in ice and snow in sub-zero temperatures.

“They’ve absolutely lost everything that they had - they ran out in their bare feet some of them. They’re relying on countries like us. We said we’d give 0.7% of our GDP and we’re not.”

Hands said the UK was “one of the biggest bilateral donors” and added: “I absolutely understand the situation, I know that region well, I’ve travelled in that region before myself.

“I can feel what people will be going through, but our position is very favourable compared to other international countries and we are committed to improving on that position going forward.”

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake caused whole building blocks to collapse in Turkey and northwest Syria on Monday just before sunrise, in what is expected to be one of the deadliest quakes this decade, according to seismologists.

Aid workers are trying to rescue as many people as possible, but experts are warning that it is a “race against time” right now.

The US Geological Survey also said it was the largest quake recorded worldwide since a tremor reported in the south Atlantic in August 2021.

Reuters news agency claimed it was the deadliest seen in Turkey since 1999, when a quake of similar magnitude struck, while Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan said it was a historic disaster and the worst the country had seen since 1939.