Tory MPs turn the screw on Boris over foreign aid cut

Tory MPs turn the screw on Boris over foreign aid cut with emergency debate after Speaker Lindsay Hoyle demanded government calls a vote

  • An emergency debate being held in the Commons over the foreign aid target cut
  • Lindsay Hoyle rejected rebel bid to hijack legislation on research body yesterday
  • Speaker has demanded the government calls a vote on the change in the target 

Tories are turning the screw on Boris Johnson today over the foreign aid cut after Speaker Lindsay Hoyle demanded the government calls a vote.

Senior MPs including Theresa May and ex-Cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell are set to turn their fire on the government over slashing spending in an emergency debate this afternoon.

Sir Lindsay yesterday killed off a bid by rebels to hijack legislation for a new research agency in order to force a return to the target of allocating 0.7 per cent of national income to aid.

However, he made clear he expects ministers to give the House a binding vote after the commitment – enshrined in legislation – was lowered to 0.5 per cent in response to the pandemic.

And Sir Lindsay has also called a three-hour debate later so that MPs can air their views on the issue.


Senior MPs including Theresa May (right) and ex-Cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell (left) are set to turn their fire on the government over slashing spending in an emergency debate in the Commons this afternoon

The IFS has estimated how much spending is set to fall if the lower aid target is maintained

Motions for emergency debates must be neutral, typically stating that the Commons has considered a question, but the session should give an indication of the mood of MPs.

Rebel leader Mr Mitchell, a former international development secretary, has claimed that the government would have lost the hoped-for vote last night by up to 20 – despite a Tory majority of more than 80.

He told MPs ministers were ‘riding roughshod’ over Parliament.

‘In the week of the British chairmanship of the G7, the Government’s failure to address this issue will indisputably mean that hundreds of thousands of avoidable deaths will result,’ he said.

While there was relief in Downing Street at avoiding the showdown last night days before the summit in Cornwall, the issue is not going away.

A Government spokesman said that its actions were in line with the International Development Act 2015 which explicitly envisaged there may be circumstances when the 0.7 per cent target is not met.

The spokesman said they remained committed to restoring the target ‘when the fiscal situation allows’.

‘The impact of the pandemic on the public finances has forced us to take tough but necessary decisions on how we spend taxpayers’ money, including temporarily reducing the aid budget to 0.5 per cent of GNI (gross national income),’ the spokesman said.

‘In 2021 we will still spend more than £10billion to improve global health, fight poverty and tackle climate change – making us one of the biggest aid donors in the G7.’


Sir Lindsay (left) yesterday killed off a bid by rebels to hijack legislation for a new research agency in order to force Boris Johnson (right) to return to the target of allocating 0.7 per cent of national income to aid

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