Cuts to foreign aid is ‘life or death issue’, says Gordon Brown
Boris Johnson may avoid an embarrassing defeat in the Commons on Monday over his decision to renege on a manifesto pledge on foreign aid after reports suggested Commons clerks were likely to rule that the amendment which rebels had hoped would be voted on was outside the scope of the bill.
Former Cabinet minister David Davis called the move to trim the aid budget “harmful” and “devastating” and suggested people who miss out on vital humanitarian assistance in developing countries may die as a result.
“No other G7 country is cutting its aid in this way. It is going to have devastating consequences across the world,” he said, adding that massive cuts in clean water which kills children worldwide and in funding for food for starving people could lead to “thousands” of deaths. “Morally, this is a devastating thing for us to have done,” Mr Davis said.
The prime minister has been criticised across the political spectrum for reducing foreign aid from 0.7 per cent of national income to 0.5 per cent, breaking a manifesto commitment.
No 10 refuses to condemn supporters who booed players taking the knee
Boris Johnson’s spokesman has also refused to condemn supporters who booed players for taking the knee in protest at racial injustice.
He said the prime minister “supports individuals’ rights to protest” and that Mr Johnson “fully respects the right of people in this country to peacefully protest and make their feelings known about injustices”.
Asked whether the PM was refusing to criticise supporters who boo the gesture, the spokesman said: “No… the prime minister is supporting the England football team and wants them to succeed and he wants the whole country to get behind them in that endeavour in this tournament.”
Tom Batchelor7 June 2021 13:36
PM backs minister’s claim that racism suspension was ‘over the top’
Downing Street said Boris Johnson backed Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden’s assessment that English cricket’s governing body had gone “over the top” in its response to the Ollie Robinson row.
The PM’s official spokesman said Mr Johnson was “supportive” of the culture secretary’s comments.
“As Oliver Dowden set out, these were comments made more than a decade ago, written by someone as a teenager, and for which they have rightly apologised,” the spokesman said.
Robinson’s comments were made less than a decade ago.
Tom Batchelor7 June 2021 13:23
No 10 hints foreign aid could exceed 0.5% amid anger at cut
Downing Street has hinted that aid spending could exceed the downgraded target of 0.5 per cent of gross national income when the donation of coronavirus vaccines is taken into account.
The prime minister’s spokesman said: “You can expect the PM to set out more details at the G7 this week on the UK’s plans to share surplus doses with developing countries.
“As is standard, any funding that benefits poverty reduction in developing countries would count as ODA (Official Development Assistance) funding.”
Asked if it would be on top of the existing aid budget, the spokesman said: “The £10bn has been largely allocated in the spending plans already set out with regards to ODA funding, but I’m not going to jump ahead of what the PM might say later this week with regards to the commitment.”
Pressed if vaccine donations count as ODA spending, the spokesman said: “The £458m we spent on Covax so far is ODA. That is factually the case.”
Tom Batchelor7 June 2021 13:10
G7 global tax proposal barely registers with tech giant investors
The UK and other G7 countries agreed over the weekend to back a minimum global corporate tax rate of at least 15 per cent.
That is aimed at directing more of the tax revenues of multinational companies to the markets where they are operating.
But shares in US technology giants barely reacted on Monday to the landmark deal.
Analysts have said it will take the backing of low-tax nations to have any meaningful impact on the companies’ bottomlines.
Those countries include Ireland, whose economy has been booming with the influx of billions of dollars in investment from multinationals due to lower taxes.
Shares of Facebook, Amazon, Apple , Microsoft and Google-parent Alphabet were all down between 0.4 per cent and 0.7 per cent. Europe’s tech stocks index was flat.
Tom Batchelor7 June 2021 13:06
Dido Harding ‘thinking about’ bid to lead NHS England
The Tory peer who was formally in charge of implementing the government’s widely criticised test and trace programme has revealed she is considering a bid to become the next head of NHS England.
Dido Harding said on Monday that she is “thinking about” applying to succeed Sir Simon Stevens in the role of chief executive of the health service when he steps down later this year.
“I haven’t applied for the NHS job yet and I’m thinking about what I want to do with my life,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.
Read more on this story here:
Tom Batchelor7 June 2021 12:44
Halt scheme to collect and share patient data because of privacy fears, Labour says
A controversial scheme to collect and share patients’ NHS data must be halted because of privacy concerns, Labour is urging the government.
The party echoed medical groups by protesting that people are being kept in the dark about the use of the information on treatments, referrals and appointments over the past 10 years.
The data will be anonymised and its collection will “save lives” by helping to develop cures for serious illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer, health chiefs say.
But there is criticism that it can then be shared with third parties – as well as a lack of public awareness that patients have only until 23 June to opt out.
Tom Batchelor7 June 2021 12:31
PM ‘all but certain’ to avoid Commons vote defeat
It appears increasingly likely that Boris Johnson will avoid defeat at the hands of rebellious backbenchers in a vote over his foreign aid cut after a Labour source told Sky News that it was “all but certain” that Commons clerks would rule the key amendment outside the scope of the Advanced Research and Innovation Agency Bill.
The Telegraph also reported that a vote on the amendment – which would force the new body to make up the funding to meet the 0.7 per cent goal – would not come to pass (see post at 10.59am).
Reports suggested that the clerks had advised Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Commons speaker, that the rebels’ amendment was “completely out of scope” of the Bill – potentially scuppering the chance of the issue being voted on.
Sir Lindsay’s office declined to comment, but he will give his final decision on whether the amendment will be selected for consideration when the Bill returns to the Commons later today.
Tom Batchelor7 June 2021 12:09
John Rentoul hosts ‘ask me anything’ as Boris Johnson faces House of Commons defeat
Boris Johnson faces the prospect of defeat in the House of Commons for the first time since he won a convincing majority at the 2019 election. Rebel Conservative MPs are convinced that they have enough support to force the Prime Minister to restore the cut in foreign aid.
The Independent’s chief political commentator John Rentoul will be answering your questions live later today.
Here is how to get involved:
Tom Batchelor7 June 2021 12:03
Minister admits Brexit implications for Northern Ireland ‘more difficult than we anticipated’
Solicitor General Lucy Frazer has acknowledged that the trade complexities surrounding Brexit and Northern Ireland were “more difficult than we anticipated”.
Speaking to Sky News on Monday morning, she said: “It is very difficult on the ground in terms of trade.
“It is really important that we sort it and Lord Frost is doing just that.
“As it has panned out, on the ground it is more difficult than we anticipated and we do need to sort out that trade arrangement.”
Tom Batchelor7 June 2021 11:52
How much would government save from aid cut?
The proposed cut in government spending on international aid from 0.7 per cent of GDP to 0.5 per cent would save around £4bn. That will bring the UK aid budget to around £10bn.
But the UK is due to receive £16bn from the International Monetary Fund, which Labour former prime minister Gordon Brown says should fund the aid budget.
For comparison, Germany spent around $29bn (£20bn) on foreign aid in 2020, the only country to spend more than the UK. In proportional terms that is 0.74 per cent of national income.
Tom Batchelor7 June 2021 11:41