Boris Johnson – MPs accuse Boris Johnson of abandoning world’s vulnerable with foreign policy plans
Opposition party leaders have condemned Boris Johnson’s “unwillingness” to intervene in global atrocities and accused him of turning his back on the world’s most vulnerable.
Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, has joined five other MPs in writing to the Prime Minister today over their concerns about the UK Government’s foreign policy in the wake of Brexit and the pandemic.
The group, which also includes Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey, the Green’s Caroline Lucas and Plaid Cymru’s Liz Saville Roberts, say they are fearful of the consequences of the cuts to foreign aid and the message it sends out about the UK.
It comes after Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced this week that the overseas aid budget would be slashed by half, prompting concerns that lives would be lost and the UK stood to lose its reputation as a global force for good.
Diplomats have been ordered to save billions within weeks, with charities and experts calling for the government to reconsider the move.
Oxfam’s head of policy Sam Nadel said earlier this week: “Cutting aid in the middle of a pandemic when hundreds of millions are at risk of falling into poverty is a dereliction of Britain’s duty to the world’s poorest people and will cost lives.”
READ MORE: Chancellor Rishi Sunak defends cutting foreign aid budget amid backlash
The MPs’ letter, seen by The Herald, states: “We remain deeply concerned at your government’s approach to aiding the most vulnerable and disadvantaged around the world.
“As you are already aware, opposition parties, and indeed many senior members within your own party, have criticised the government’s decision to cut the rate of Official Development Assistance from 0.7% of GDP to 0.5%.
“This move, which was almost universally condemned by the third sector, comes off the back of the abolition of the Department for International Development (DFID); one of government’s most successful and respected departments. “
They argued that the move to merge the Foreign Office with DFID, and the cuts to the aid budget “could not have come at a worse time” and said that the move “will cost lives”.
They also say it flies in the face of the UK Government’s plans to become “Global Britain” and that the Prime Minister’s plans “lack substance and ambition.”
The letter, also signed by the Northern Ireland Alliance Party’s Stephen Farry MP, and the Social Democratic and Labour party leader Colum Eastwood MP, cites the recent Trade Bill debate where Tory MPs were whipped to vote against an amendment which would have allowed British courts to determine if genocide had happened in China against the Uighur Muslim population.
The MPs say the move to reduce foreign aid, and the rejection of the genocide amendment, are clear examples of “abdication of accountability”, and have left the country’s allies concerned “about the role that the UK can or will play in tackling the biggest issues facing humanity”.
They added: “Indeed, this government is directly responsible for arming and training Saudi personnel that have waged a war against insurgents and defenceless civilians alike in Yemen.
“A recent FOI obtained by the Guardian newspaper revealed that over the last two years the government provided training on UK soil to 15 countries that have records of human rights violations that your own government have recorded concerns about. This abdication of accountability to the UK’s moral obligations renders your rhetoric on moral leadership utterly meaningless.”
READ MORE: David Pratt: Little Britain will pay the price for foreign aid cuts
Concluding the letter, the MPs have appealed to the Prime Minister to come up with a strategy for how “how your government intends to be an effective partner for peace, tackling climate change, protecting the most vulnerable, and preventing atrocities.”
MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber Ian Blackford, said: “The UK government’s decision to slash international aid spending was not only deplorable, it is a step backwards in the fight against coronavirus and it speaks volumes about the UK’s role on the world stage.
“The Prime Minister is playing up to the right wing of his party while the world’s poorest suffers. What sort of ‘Global Britain’ does that portray?”