Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)
BORIS FACES REBELLION OVER FOREIGN AID CUT JUST AHEAD OF G7 SUMMIT
LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing on Monday his first possible parliamentary defeat since his 2019 landslide election, over cuts to the overseas aid budget, just days before hosting the G7 summit.
Breaking a manifesto promise, Johnson’s Conservative government insists it must slash spending on aid by billions of pounds this year to help mend pandemic-hit public finances.
But the decision to no longer meet its legally enshrined commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) on British overseas aid has sparked a rebellion within the ruling party.
Dozens of Tory lawmakers oppose the move, including former PM Theresa May, who argue the cut to 0.5% of GNI would leave Britain as the only member of the G7 wealthy nations not meeting the target.
The rebels believe they have the numbers to inflict a humiliating defeat on Johnson when parliament votes on related legislation later on Monday, in the same week that he hosts G7 leaders at a summit in Cornwall, southwest England.
“The eyes of the world are truly upon us,” lawmaker Andrew Mitchell, a former international development secretary who is spearheading the rebellion of dozens of Conservatives, wrote in The Guardian.
“But in this moment Britain is found wanting, because we have removed a foundational piece of our own global leadership,” he added, noting it was the only G7 country to be cutting aid. “We are doing it at a time when both the need for aid around the world is rising and when other countries are stepping up.”
Mitchell said the cuts are already having a “devastating effect” on projects around the world. “In crisis situations, these cuts will result in hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths,” he added. Britain dished out around £15bn ($20bn) in overseas aid last year before the cut of around £4.5bn ($6.38bn) was implemented.