20/02/2017 11:28 SAST | Updated 24/02/2017 15:26 SAST

UK Ministers Want To Divert Aid Meant For Africa 'To Get A Better Brexit Deal'

But the Department for International Development warns that this would be an illegal deal.

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Boris Johnson, British secretary of state for foreign and Commonwealth affairs, participates in a panel talk at the 2017 Munich Security Conference on February 17, 2017 in Munich, Germany.

The United Kingdom spends around R197 billion (£12 billion) in aid, spread around the world, but mostly concentrated in Africa and Asia. Some government ministers are looking at this fund, and are reportedly thinking of using it to tempt certain Eastern European countries to acquiesce to a favourable Brexit deal.

According to the Sunday Times, money would be diverted away from "questionable" aid projects in developing countries in Asia and Africa, to be spent instead on Poland, Hungary and the Baltic states, which are seen to be allied to the UK within the European bloc.

The idea is that this will secure the favour of these countries as the UK attempts to renegotiate its relationship with the European Union. Certain powerful EU figures are reportedly in favour of a punishing deal to discourage any other countries that may decide to split from the Union.

However, the ST also reports that officials within the Department for International Development are warning that under Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) rules, the only countries that qualify for aid in Eastern Europe are Albania and the Ukraine, neither of which are in the EU.

The biggest recipients of UK aid outside of bodies like the United Nations are Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sierra Leone and Syria.