Tue, 15 June 2021

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Number 10 Rejects Request For A Binding Vote On Foreign Aid Cut, Swerving A Clash With Tory Rebels

Number 10 Rejects Request For A Binding Vote On Foreign Aid Cut, Swerving A Clash With Tory Rebels

The government will not grant MPs a vote in the Commons on the decision to cut the foreign aid budget from the legally enshrined 0.7% of GDP target (Alamy)

2 min read

Downing Street has rejected the call for MPs to get a binding vote on £4billion worth of cuts to the foreign aid budget issued by the Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said the government believed they were “acting in accordance with the act” which enshrines the UK’s target to spend 0.7% of GDP on aid, even though they are slashing it to 0.5% this year.

The decision will deprive a group of Tory rebels the chance of overturning the move, which was in the party’s manifesto, after claims they had enough MPs to defeat the government despite Boris Johnson’s 85-seat majority.

Yesterday Hoyle ruled that a plan to amend legislation setting up a new research agency and make it provide the shortfall in aid funding fell foul of Parliamentary rules.

But the Speaker indicated he supported the rebels in their aim of getting the Commons to have a say on the cuts, and has allowed for an emergency debate on the issue this afternoon.

Hoyle also called for the government to “allow the House to formally to take an effective decision”, but this lunchtime Number 10 outright rejected this.

The PM’s spokesperson has defended temporarily scrapping the 0.7% figure, which is set to wipe around £4billion from the overall budget.

“We believe we are acting in accordance with the act as set out, which explicitly envisages the circumstances which we now face due to this global pandemic,” they told reporters. 

The spokesperson added: "There are certainly no plans to bring forward a vote.”

The move is sure to anger those involved in the Tory rebellion, led by former ministers Andrew Mitchell and David Davis, and supported by ex-PM Theresa May and host of senior party figures.

Yesterday Davis said “morally, this is a devastating thing for us to have done” and the cuts to programmes around the world mean “thousands will die”.