Britain will “leverage” its £11 billion foreign aid budget to build a series of new trade deals as it leaves the European Union, the Telegraph has learned.
Priti Patel, the new International Development Secretary, and her ministers will use meetings with foreign leaders from countries that receive foreign aid to “open the door” to new deals. While rules bar Britain from explicitly tying trade deals to foreign aid, Mrs Patel plans to use the department’s budget in Britain’s “national interest” to help with the Brexit process.
“Britain’s international aid commitments mean it gets fantastic access to foreign leaders all round the world,” a Whitehall source said. “We can leverage existing relationships to strike trade deals. … It will be a completely fresh way of looking at Britain’s aid budget. If ministers have meetings with countries which we’ve given hundreds of millions of pounds to, why can’t we use that to start a conversation about trade?”
Ms Patel said “We will continue to tackle the great challenges of our time: poverty, disease and the causes of mass migration, while helping to create millions of jobs in countries across the developing world – our trading partners of the future.”