MINISTERS are battling to divert some of the international aid budget to Europe to help our chances of getting a good Brexit deal.
Some senior cabinet figures want to stop money going to projects in Africa and Asia and put it towards funding in Poland and Hungary instead.
The Sunday Times reported that some figures believe that diverting the funds from Britain’s £12bn foreign aid budget would be helpful to win support from EU countries in the run up to Brexit.
One said that it could also help reduce the “exit bill” that Britain could be slapped with when we leave the bloc.
Britain could be forced to pay up to £60 billion when we quit to cover the cost of projects that are already in the pipeline.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and Chancellor Philip Hammond are both said to be interested in the idea.
Boris Johnson is already putting together a package of millions to help secure countries such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, who are under threat from growing aggression in Russia.
A source said: “If we help countries like Poland and the Baltics, they are more likely to take our side when we’re negotiating a Brexit deal.”
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But officials at the Department of International Development are fighting back – and say the plans are illegal.
They say that EU countries in Eastern Europe wouldn’t qualify for the aid.
A government source said: “We don’t set the rules… the eastern European countries in the EU don’t count.”
A Downing Street source acknowledged that there were continuing “discussions” about the aid budget but said no plans had been drawn up to divert cash to eastern Europe. “We don’t recognise this,” the source said.