Leading Tory MP calls UK government's aid cuts 'immoral'

Leading Tory MP calls UK government's aid cuts 'immoral' in Conservative rebellion
2 min read
07 June, 2021
Conservative MP, David Davis, has called the proposed UK aid cuts as immoral and unlawful.
Davis is one of the Tory rebels challenging the government aid cuts [Getty]

Leading Conservative MP David Davis has slammed the UK government's proposed aid cuts as "immoral" and "unlawful".

The former Brexit secretary told BBC 4’s Today Programme Monday that the UK government's plans to reduce aid spending from 0.7 percent to 0.5 percent of the UK’s gross national income were "morally... a devastating thing for us to have done".

Davis, who admitted to being a critic of aid spending, said that thousands could die if the plans to reduce overseas assistance spending by around £4 billion takes place. 

An amendment, backed by former Prime Minister Theresa May and more than 29 other Conservative MPs, will be put forward in the Commons Monday to restore 0.7 percent GNI spending on aid by 2022.

This would involve adding a new clause to the Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill, known as the ARIA bill. 

The rebellion to challenge proposed cuts is being led by Andrew Mitchell, Conservative MP and former international development secretary. 

The decision to slash aid spending was announced last November as a temporary measure due to the economic pressures of the pandemic.

The target to spend 0.7 percent GNI on aid was enshrined in law in 2015 and was part of the Conservative Party's manifesto in the 2019 general election. 

Davis told BBC Radio 4 he was confident that if the amendment to restore aid spending is voted on in parliament it would pass. This would lead to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's first defeat in the Commons since winning his 80-seat majority in 2019. 

Davis claims the reason the UK government did not ask the House to approve aid spending cuts is that not enough MPs would support the measure.

Several of the UK's leading charities, such as Oxfam and ActionAid, have said the aid cuts would cause devastation for many of the world's most vulnerable communities.  

Yesterday, activist and musician Bob Geldof told BBC’s Andrew Marr that the cuts were cruel.

"It doesn’t make sense economically, financially, politically, diplomatically, of course morally in the humanitarian consequences of it," he said. "I'm very much afraid that something we’re told is temporary will become permanent."