PM under renewed pressure to reverse £4bn cut to foreign aid

8 June 2021, 10:52 | Updated: 8 June 2021, 10:53

An emergency debate on foreign aid will take place on Tuesday.
An emergency debate on foreign aid will take place on Tuesday. Picture: PA

By Emma Soteriou

Boris Johnson will be under renewed pressure to reverse a £4 billion cut to the UK’s overseas aid budget in an emergency debate, amid widespread anger among Tory rebels.

A three-hour debate in the Commons was secured for Tuesday in which critics, including former Prime Minister Theresa May, are expected to put extra pressure on Mr Johnson. It comes in the lead up to the G7 summit in Cornwall.

However, any vote after Tuesday's debate will be non-binding on the government and purely symbolic.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle originally said the amendment to legislation - forcing the government to reinstate their commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on aid - could not be debated on Monday, as it was “outside the scope of the bill”.

Rebel leader and former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell said that if there had been a vote on the amendment on Monday, the government would have lost by up to 20, despite a working majority of more than 80.

Read more: Boris Johnson to urge G7 to vaccinate world against Covid by end of 2022

Read more: Foreign aid vote denied to Tory rebels as MPs bid to reverse cuts

He said: "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."

A government spokesman said: “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).”

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