Rebel MPs scent victory on foreign aid

Rebel MPs scent victory on foreign aid as they fight to force Boris Johnson to reverse planned cut to handouts

  • The Prime Minister temporarily reduced aid to 0.5 per cent of national income 
  • Thirty Tory MPs support an amendment that would require new legislation
  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC the cut was ‘entirely reasonable’ 

Rebel Tory MPs are ‘cautiously optimistic’ that Boris Johnson will be forced to reverse a cut to foreign aid.

The Prime Minister has temporarily reduced aid from 0.7 per cent of national income to 0.5 per cent, breaking a Conservative manifesto commitment.

Thirty Tory MPs, including former prime minister Theresa May, support an amendment that would require new legislation to make up the shortfall left by the cut.

The Prime Minister has temporarily reduced aid from 0.7 per cent of national income to 0.5 per cent, breaking a Conservative manifesto commitment

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC the cut was ‘entirely reasonable’ given that the pandemic had caused a ‘once-in-300-year economic interruption’. Former Cabinet minister Esther McVey said: ‘It’s trade not aid that gets countries out of poverty, and now we’re no longer in the EU we should be working to secure trade agreements with poorer countries, helping them to develop industry and trade their way out of poverty.’

But last night one of the rebels, former immigration minister Caroline Nokes, said: ‘The cuts represent just one per cent of what the Chancellor is borrowing this year but they mean funding for the UN’s reproductive health programme has been cut by 85 per cent.’

It will be up to Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle to decide whether the rebels’ amendment is selected for consideration today.

Thirty Tory MPs, including former prime minister Theresa May, support an amendment that would require new legislation to make up the shortfall left by the cut

Asked if there are enough rebels, amendment-supporting Tory MP Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Commons foreign affairs committee, told Sky News: ‘We’re cautiously optimistic… Britain has a huge opportunity to shape the world at the moment of extraordinary flux and this, along with our defence and diplomatic and trade capabilities, is part of that.’

A letter to the Government from charities including Oxfam and Save the Children has claimed the aid cut could undermine the country’s credibility at the G7 meeting in Cornwall, which starts on Friday.

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