Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)


- Agence France-presse

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.

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