According to figures released by the Department for International Development, the UK paid £13.3 billion in overseas foreign aid last year, meeting the target of 0.7% of the country’s gross domestic product. Of this, £1.5 billion was sent to the EU to spend on overseas aid projects.

The total amount given away in foreign aid last year was £1.25 billion higher than the year before, with the amount given to European aid programmes increasing by £177 million.

Responding to the figures, Dr Julia Reid MEP said: “I think this just goes to show that the Tory party are more interested in virtue signalling to the rest of the world than saving our NHS and looking out for the people of this great nation.”

“Our hospitals are overcrowded and understaffed, and our hospital staff are underpaid and overworked. Our NHS is in desperate need of an urgent cash injection.

“In order to save money, some NHS Trusts are now making patients wait at least three months before they can have non-urgent operations. It’s even been reported that NHS hospitals are so cash-strapped that bosses are deliberately avoiding filling vacant positions for up to a year in an effort reduce their spending.

“And yet despite this, the Government is still adamant that spending 0.7% of the country’s GDP on foreign aid is the right thing to do. Just take a look at what some of the money was spent on last year: £86,616 on yoga classes for heart patients in India, £86,254 on research relating to cutting salt intake in China and £742,267 on sustainable rice research for countries in the far east.

“It’s not just the foreign aid budget either. This week the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced they would be doubling their contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to help make up the shortfall after Trump decided to withdraw contributions from the US.

“It’s time the Tories stopped virtue signalling to the rest of the world and started putting the British people first.”

ENDS