Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has condemned the government’s “smallminded” vote to cut international development funding today. The government proposed to make a return to 0.7% GNI spending on international aid contingent on strict fiscal rules, which economists have suggested may not be met for years to come – and would only have been met once in the past 20 years. Critics, including all living former Prime Ministers, have warned that the sweeping cuts to aid will put many lives at risk due to famine and disease. The cuts break a manifesto commitment made by the Conservatives and all major parties in the last election. Former minister Damien Green has suggested that the vote was won through job offers to Conservative MPs.
Oxfam GB chief executive Danny Sriskandarajah described the vote as "a disaster for the world's poorest people".
Daniel Willis, of the campaign group Global Justice Now, said: "When the inevitable death and suffering from aid cuts hits the news, each and every MP who has voted to sever the UK's 0.7% commitment should know that blood is on their hands."
The 0.7% spending commitment was a major policy of the Liberal Democrats during the Coalition Government, implemented through a Private Member’s Bill from former MP, Michael Moore.
Speaking after the vote, Mr Carmichael said:
“The Chancellor in his speech managed to make a great case for UK development funding – while rallying Tory MPs to vote to axe it. It was, however, frankly shameful for him to stand up after the vote and pretend that this government has any interest or intent to restore international development spending even as it cuts it to the bone.
“Rumours are already swirling that Boris Johnson only got this through by offering patronage and jobs to half of his party. This government's actions in muscling through its smallminded cuts cast a shadow over our Parliament.
“International aid is good for our security, for the stability of the global economy and for all of our futures, but most importantly it is the right thing to do. When we passed the 0.7% commitment our country grew in moral stature. Today’s effective repeal diminishes us.”