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The Guardian Weekly - 2021-06-11

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Tory rebels fail to table amendment on foreign aid

Global Report

An attempt by rebel Conservative MPs to reverse foreign aid cuts was thwarted after the House of Commons Speaker ruled their amendment was out of scope, but said the government must bring a vote on the issue. Andrew Mitchell, the former international development secretary who led the rebel push, said the rebels would have won by a majority of at least nine. Now, it appears Boris Johnson has set himself on a collision course with scores of his own MPs as No 10 suggested it would defy an order by Lindsay Hoyle to bring a vote on cutting aid to some of the world’s poorest countries by 42% in the pandemic. Between 40 and 50 Conservative MPs were said to be considering defying the government on Monday before an ambush in the Commons was thwarted, with rebels now exploring options including legal action. The Speaker said he would look at “other ways” to give MPs a binding vote on the issue if the government did not bring a vote itself. On Tuesday, senior figures including former prime minister Theresa May were expected to line up to condemn the cuts in an emergency debate. A senior rebel source said the Speaker had made it “crystal clear” the government must now bring a binding vote, though a No 10 source repeated their belief that no vote is necessary and said there are provisions in law for the aid target to fall in exceptional circumstances – in this case from 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) to 0.5%, around £4bn ($5.6bn).

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