Ex-Prime Minister John Major joins Tory greats who oppose pandemic-induced cuts to foreign aid

0

Sir John Major is today the last former Tory Prime Minister to berate Boris Johnson over plans to cut Britain’s foreign aid budget.

The 1990s leader said proposals to reduce the share of UK spending on projects abroad as a result of the pandemic were not ‘morally justifiable’.

He spoke again publicly on the issue after Theresa May joined the chorus of Tory parliamentary greats yesterday who threatened to defeat the government over the proposed austerity measures.

She is one of 30 conservatives who support a move to force the government to backtrack on plans to cut spending from 0.7 percent of national income to 0.5 percent.

Now the group of mostly senior conservatives is backing an amendment that looks set to be the subject of a dramatic vote in the House of Commons next week.

After initially making his views known privately to the government, Sir John chose to make his support for the aid budget public as Conservative rebels hope to force Mr Johnson to reverse the cuts.

Sir John said: ‘While I fully recognize our own budgetary difficulties, I do not believe it is morally justifiable to lighten our own financial burden at the expense of some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world, who have nothing – and nowhere else. to ask for help.

“I made my own opinion clear to the government on this a few weeks ago, and – even at this late hour – I hope they will honor their better instincts and let compassion prevail to help those in dire need.

“Only then can we re-establish ourselves as a nation that keeps its word and begin to restore our reputation as a global force for good.”

Sir John said: 'While I fully recognize our own budget problems, I do not believe it is morally justifiable to lighten our own financial burden at the expense of some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world'

Sir John said: ‘While I fully recognize our own budget problems, I do not believe it is morally justifiable to lighten our own financial burden at the expense of some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world’

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson

Theresa May

Theresa May

Boris Johnson faces a massive Tory revolt over cutting foreign aid – with MPs including Theresa May ‘confidence’ they can force the government to cut its spending target of 0.7 percent next year

Johnson has come under fire after saying foreign aid will be temporarily cut from 0.7 percent of national income to 0.5 percent as a result of the pandemic plaguing the economy.  The chart shows IFS estimates of expected change in spending

Johnson has come under fire after saying foreign aid will be temporarily cut from 0.7 percent of national income to 0.5 percent as a result of the pandemic plaguing the economy.  The chart shows IFS estimates of the expected change in spending

Johnson has come under fire after saying foreign aid will be temporarily cut from 0.7 percent of national income to 0.5 percent as a result of the pandemic plaguing the economy. The chart shows IFS estimates of expected change in spending

Ex-minister Andrew Mitchell is leading a parliamentary push to ensure new legislation solves the deficit created by the cut in UK Official Development Assistance.

Ex-minister Andrew Mitchell is leading a parliamentary push to ensure new legislation solves the deficit created by the cut in UK Official Development Assistance.

Ex-minister Andrew Mitchell is leading a parliamentary push to ensure new legislation solves the deficit created by the cut in UK Official Development Assistance.

The number of potential rebels doubled last night, with Ms May’s former deputy Damian Green, and Johnny Mercer, who recently stepped down as defense secretary, also adding their names to an amendment led by former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell.

Mitchell, who is also a former Conservative leader, wants to ensure that new legislation closes the deficit created by the cut in the UK’s Official Development Assistance.

Other big hitters who support his plan include ex-Foreign and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and ex-Auxiliary Minister Sir Desmond Swayne.

Ms May is not a natural Tory rebel, but she has criticized Mr Johnson for cutting aid before.

Writing in the Mail on the occasion of Joe Biden’s inauguration as US president in January, she suggested that her successor had failed to respect British values ​​by tearing apart the foreign aid target.

Mr Mitchell has tabled an amendment to the Advanced Research and Invention Agency (Aria) Bill, a piece of legislation creating a new ‘high-risk, high-reward’ research agency, backed with £800 million in taxpayers’ money to research new ideas.

The explanatory memorandum accompanying Mr Mitchell’s amendment to the bill says: ‘This new clause aims to reaffirm the duty in the UK’s International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Act 2015 for Official Development Assistance (ODA) to 0.7 percent of gross national income per year.

“From January 2022, Aria should make up any shortfall in that ratio.”

It will be up to Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle to decide whether the amendment will be selected for consideration when the bill returns to the Commons for further consideration on Monday, June 7.

It could be considered outside the scope of the legislation.

Other senior Conservatives who support the amendment include ex-Brexit Secretary David Davis and former Secretary of Wales Stephen Crabb, as well as House father Sir Peter Bottomley.

Others include selected committee chairmen such as Caroline Nokes, Tom Tugendhat and Karen Bradley.

The amendment is also receiving support from Labor banks, with signatories so far including Sarah Champion, chair of the International Development Committee and Meg Hillier, chair of the Public Accounts Committee.

The government has blamed the economic damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic for its aid decision.

But critics believe the cut will result in tens of thousands of deaths in other parts of the world.

Tobias Ellwood

Tobias Ellwood

Tom Tugendhat

Tom Tugendhat

Defense Committee Chair Tobias Ellwood (left) and Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Tom Tugendhat (right) both support the rebel movement

Desmond Swayne

Desmond Swayne

Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt

Other big hitters who support his plan include ex-Foreign and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and ex-Auxiliary Minister Sir Desmond Swayne.

The government has also come under fire for making the change without a vote in the House of Commons.

Minister Victoria Atkins told Sky News the UK can “hold our heads high in terms of international development”.

“The Prime Minister has made it clear that this is a temporary measure,” she said.

“In 2019, no one could have foreseen the magnitude of the pandemic and the measures we would have to take as a country to tackle it; it has had a huge impact on our economy.’

And she added: “So we had to make very, very difficult decisions.”

But she said: ‘Even with this small temporary cut, we are still one of the largest aid donors in the world, with over £10 billion in aid.

“And so I believe we still have a record that allows us to hold our heads high in the field of international development.”

.