Boris Johnson faces growing Tory rebellion amid ‘short-sighted’ cut to foreign aid

Foreign aid: UK 'leading from the rear' says Andrew Mitchell

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Andrew Mitchell, former Tory Chief Whip, is leading a revolt against the Prime Minister – and is currently supported by at least 14 backbenchers. This number is expected to grow. Mr Johnson caused havoc when he announced a temporary slash in foreign aid spending from 0.7 percent of national income to just 0.5 percent – a cut of around £4bn per year.

The group of MPs believe they have enough support to see new legislation passed to increase aid spending by 2022.

Rebels have tabled an amendment that would force ministers to reinstate a legally-binding target of spending 0.7 percent of national income from next January.

Mr Mitchell said: “Every single member of the House of Commons was elected on a very clear manifesto promise to stand by this commitment.

“I have repeatedly urged the Government to obey the law and implored ministers to reconsider breaking this commitment.

“The cuts are now having a devastating impact on the ground and are leading to unnecessary loss of life.”

Mr Mitchell added: “We urge the Government to think again, or we shall be asking Parliament to reaffirm the law as it stands so as to oblige the Government to meet its legal commitment, keep its very clear pledge to British voters and uphold Britain’s promise to the rest of the world.”

The Prime Minister defended his decision, claiming it was needed to repair the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

A Government spokesperson told the BBC the pandemic had “forced us to take tough but necessary decisions” on foreign spending.

Joining Mr Mitchell in the Tory revolt is ex-Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and ex-aid minister Sir Desmond Swayne.

Blasting Mr Johnson on the decision last year, Mr Hunt wrote on Twitter: “I felt incredibly proud we maintained aid spending during the cuts after the financial crisis because it spoke to our values as a compassionate country.

“Nothing has changed — this must not happen.”

The ministerial vote will arrives same week as world leaders meet at the G7 summit.

Lisa Nandy, Shadow Foreign Secretary, said Mr Johnson’s policy was “short-sighted and self-defeating”.

She said: “On Monday, just days before world leaders arrive in Cornwall to discuss the global response to the pandemic, the Government faces defeat over its short-sighted and self-defeating decision to slash aid.

“The Conservatives should do the right thing and reverse this cut.”

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Charities have warned thousands of people could die as a result of the decision and many more may be left without food or medical treatments.

According to new data from the International Planned Parenthood Federation(IPPF), the cut to UNFPA Supplies totals around £154 million. It provides contraceptives to some of the world’s poorest communities.

The IPPF fear the budget cut will result in an estimated 2.4 million unintended pregnancies.

Dr Alvaro Bermejo, the IPPF’s Director-General, said: “Not only is the Government dismantling well-established healthcare clinics and teams, but they are also stripping the remaining ones of valuable resources with little to no notice.

“Soon, healthcare teams will be left with nothing to give the women and girls who come to clinics for contraception, inevitably leading to millions of unintended pregnancies, thousands of unsafe abortions, and thousands of maternal deaths.”

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