Boris Johnson hit by major Tory backlash over cuts to UK foreign aid budget

Boris Johnson is facing a major row with his own party over his decision to cut aid for the world’s poorest people.

The Government confirmed yesterday that it would rip up the UK’s commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on foreign aid.

Former Prime Minister David Cameron led criticism of the plan to reduce overseas aid, saying he “deeply regrets” the UK’s decision to break its promise on combating poverty abroad.

He said: “0.7% is ultimately very simple. We share this planet with millions who are starving, with mothers who die needlessly in childbirth and with children who die of preventable diseases and with countries that are broken by conflict, corruption and poverty.

“The questions are: do we care, do we act and do we lead? The promise of 0.7 meant that we – Global Britain- answered ‘yes’ to all three. And that’s a promise worth keeping.”

Former PM David Cameron criticised the move

Bishops led by the Archbishop of Canterbury denounced the move as “shameful and wrong” and urged MPs to vote against the plan when it comes to the Commons.

“It said something great about Britain, not just that we care about tackling global poverty or tackling climate change or helping those who don’t have what we have in this country,” Justin Welby said.

“It was that we were actually going to do something about it, we were going to lead, we were going to show the rest of the world.”

Tory minister Baroness Sugg quit her role in protest branding the PM’s decision to abandon his pledge “fundamentally wrong”.

A host of international figures, including activist Malala Yousafzai, have already condemned the decision.

But the PM’s plans to legislate for the change early next year are set to run into trouble with dozens of Tory MPs threatening to rebel.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is expected to make a statement to the Commons on Thursday to try to quell the rebellion.

Former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned the UK will be “poorer in the eyes of the world” due to the aid cuts. 

Ex-aid secretary Andrew Mitchell said it risked causing 100,000 otherwise preventable deaths.

He told MPs: “This is a choice I for one am not prepared to make and none of us in this House will be able to look our children in the eye and claim we did not know what we were voting for.”

Defence committee chair Tobias Ellwood warned China and Russia could extend their “authoritarian influence” as a result.

He added: “We cannot genuinely claim to be global Britain nor serious about creating post-conflict strategies for countries like Libya and Yemen that could lead to great UK prosperity when our hard power is not matched by our soft power.”

The new law, which breaks a pledge in the Conservative manifesto, is almost certain to stall in the House of Lords.

Rishi Sunak confirmed he was cutting the overseas aid budget to 0.5% of national income.

It means the UK’s annual aid spend will fall from £15bn to £10bn next year

The Chancellor said the Government would increase aid spending back to 0.7% of GDP when the public finances were in better shape.


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