Cuts to foreign aid is ‘life or death issue’, says Gordon Brown
Boris Johnson may avoid an embarrassing defeat in the Commons on Monday over his decision to renege on a manifesto pledge on foreign aid after reports suggested Commons clerks were likely to rule that the amendment which rebels had hoped would be voted on was outside the scope of the bill.
Former Cabinet minister David Davis called the move to trim the aid budget “harmful” and “devastating” and suggested people who miss out on vital humanitarian assistance in developing countries may die as a result.
“No other G7 country is cutting its aid in this way. It is going to have devastating consequences across the world,” he said, adding that massive cuts in clean water which kills children worldwide and in funding for food for starving people could lead to “thousands” of deaths. “Morally, this is a devastating thing for us to have done,” Mr Davis said.
The prime minister has been criticised across the political spectrum for reducing foreign aid from 0.7 per cent of national income to 0.5 per cent, breaking a manifesto commitment.
PM ‘all but certain’ to avoid Commons vote defeat
It appears increasingly likely that Boris Johnson will avoid defeat at the hands of rebellious backbenchers in a vote over his foreign aid cut after a Labour source told Sky News that it was “all but certain” that Commons clerks would rule the key amendment outside the scope of the Advanced Research and Innovation Agency Bill.
The Telegraph also reported that a vote on the amendment – which would force the new body to make up the funding to meet the 0.7 per cent goal – would not come to pass (see post at 10.59am).
Reports suggested that the clerks had advised Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Commons speaker, that the rebels’ amendment was “completely out of scope” of the Bill – potentially scuppering the chance of the issue being voted on.
Sir Lindsay’s office declined to comment, but he will give his final decision on whether the amendment will be selected for consideration when the Bill returns to the Commons later today.
Tom Batchelor7 June 2021 12:09
John Rentoul hosts ‘ask me anything’ as Boris Johnson faces House of Commons defeat
Boris Johnson faces the prospect of defeat in the House of Commons for the first time since he won a convincing majority at the 2019 election. Rebel Conservative MPs are convinced that they have enough support to force the Prime Minister to restore the cut in foreign aid.
The Independent’s chief political commentator John Rentoul will be answering your questions live later today.
Here is how to get involved:
Tom Batchelor7 June 2021 12:03
Minister admits Brexit implications for Northern Ireland ‘more difficult than we anticipated’
Solicitor General Lucy Frazer has acknowledged that the trade complexities surrounding Brexit and Northern Ireland were “more difficult than we anticipated”.
Speaking to Sky News on Monday morning, she said: “It is very difficult on the ground in terms of trade.
“It is really important that we sort it and Lord Frost is doing just that.
“As it has panned out, on the ground it is more difficult than we anticipated and we do need to sort out that trade arrangement.”
Tom Batchelor7 June 2021 11:52
How much would government save from aid cut?
The proposed cut in government spending on international aid from 0.7 per cent of GDP to 0.5 per cent would save around £4bn. That will bring the UK aid budget to around £10bn.
But the UK is due to receive £16bn from the International Monetary Fund, which Labour former prime minister Gordon Brown says should fund the aid budget.
For comparison, Germany spent around $29bn (£20bn) on foreign aid in 2020, the only country to spend more than the UK. In proportional terms that is 0.74 per cent of national income.
Tom Batchelor7 June 2021 11:41
Hancock to update MPs on pandemic response
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, will make a Commons statement at around 3.30pm today to update MPs on the latest developments in the government’s Covid repsonse.
That will be followed by a statement from the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, on the “education recovery” following the pandemic.
Tom Batchelor7 June 2021 11:29
Ulster Unionist leader ‘not part of’ illegal parade
Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie has defended his attendance at an illegal protest against the Northern Ireland Protocol in Co Armagh.
The Upper Bann MLA said he turned up at the event on Saturday to observe and listen, and said he was standing well back from the parade.
“I was not part of the parade, I stood well back from the gathering which was there at the demonstration and I listened to what was being said from the podium. I think that’s also very important to listen to what people have to say,” he said.
Loyalists gathered in Portadown town centre on Saturday in demonstration over the Northern Ireland Protocol and what organisers said is “two-tier policing”.
A number of people leading the march were wearing balaclavas and many held anti-Protocol signs and placards while others waved Union flags.
Police officers held a sign informing protesters they were taking part in an illegal protest and that they are liable to arrest.
Tom Batchelor7 June 2021 11:17
Tory rebellion on foreign aid cut ‘averted’
The Telegraph is reporting that a potential Tory backbench rebellion over cuts to the foreign aid budget has been averted after Commons clerks said the amendment would not be brought to a vote.
Tom Batchelor7 June 2021 10:59
Culture secretary says suspension of cricketer over racist messages is ‘over the top’
Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, has described the suspension handed to England cricketer Ollie Robinson while he is investigated for racist and sexist messages as “over the top”.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said Robinson has been suspended from all international cricket pending the outcome of a disciplinary investigation into offensive posts he sent in 2012 and 2013, when he was in his late teens
Mr Dowden said Robinson’s tweets were “offensive and wrong” but added that they were “also a decade old and written by a teenager”.
He said: “The teenager is now a man and has rightly apologised.
“The ECB has gone over the top by suspending him and should think again.”
Tom Batchelor7 June 2021 10:56
Priti Patel threatened with legal action over unaccompanied child migrants
Kent County Council is threatening the home secretary with legal action as it warns its services for unaccompanied child migrants are at breaking point for the second time in less than a year.
The authority said it may no longer be able to accept new unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) within days, and has served a formal letter before action to the Home Office.
Read more on the story here:
Tom Batchelor7 June 2021 10:45
How has UK spending on aid changed since the 1970s?
The UK foreign aid budget has expanded significantly since the 1970s, with the largest sustained increase in spending (as a share of GDP) during the 2000s under Labour.
This chart, produced by Statista, shows how it has changed over the past five decades.
Tom Batchelor7 June 2021 10:31