Penny Mordaunt 'sparks Cabinet concern over hopes to pull UK out of Unesco'

Posted On: 
13th November 2018

Penny Mordaunt wants to pull Britain out of global cultural body Unesco - triggering alarm among top Tories including Theresa May, it has been reported.

The Department for International Development says Unesco is its worst performing multilateral agency
Credit: 
PA Images

The International Development Secretary believes the UN education and culture scheme is bad value for money and the UK should save the £11.1m it pumps into it each year, according to the Times.

But her proposal has concerned the Prime Minister and Environment Secretary Michael Gove, as well as the Foreign Office, who worry it could damage the reputation of the UK.

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US president Donald Trump cut Unesco funding last year - as did Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu over claims of anti-Israel bias.

Former international development secretary Priti Patel first proposed an end to Unesco funding in 2016 but the plan was vetoed by Mrs May.

The reemergence of the plan under the tenure of Ms Mordaunt - who will consult with other departments - prompted a furious response from Labour.

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said a pause in Unesco funding during the Thatcher government was slammed by ex-PM Edward Heath as “the growth of a nasty, narrow-minded nationalism which believes that we can survive without the rest of the world’.

She said: “If Penny Mordaunt was truly worried about the organisation’s financial difficulties, she would stay inside it and help reform an organisation that Britain helped create.

“To just walk away instead is an act of political petty-mindedness and shameless cultural vandalism.”

A Dfid spokesperson said: “There has been no change to our funding commitment to Unesco.

“The UK is working closely with Unesco and other member states to ensure it makes crucial reforms to deliver the best results and value for taxpayers’ money.”