Boris Johnson faces a major rebellion over his plans to slash foreign aid as a growing number of Tory rebels back an amendement to force the government to make up the shortfall left from the multi-billion pound cut to the UK‘s official development assistance.
Former prime minister Theresa May and six other former cabinet ministers added their names to the 30-strong list of Conservative MPs opposing the government’s plan to abandon its commitment to spending 0.7 per cent of national income on aid for some of the poorest and most unstable areas of the globe.
Meanwhile, Michael Gove said the government was “open minded” about continuing the furlough scheme beyond September, ahead of a meeting later where Nicola Sturgeon plans to push for an extension.
- Boris Johnson facing defeat in Tory rebellion on overseas aid cuts
- Education catch-up tsar Sir Kevan Collins resigns in major blow to PM
- Government admits 21 June lockdown plan could be blown ‘off track’
- UK still has no clear post-EU plan – so how do we make Brexit a success?
- We still don’t know what or who Brexit is actually for
Boris Johnson risks damaging Commons defeat amid Tory rebellion on overseas aid cuts
Boris Johnson faces a damaging Commons defeat over the government’s multi-billion pound cut to overseas aid, as a group of Conservative backbenchers launched a surprise rebellion.
A group of Tory rebels, led by former chief whip Andrew Mitchell, are pushing to ensure new legislation makes up the shortfall left by the cut to the UK‘s official development assistance.
The amendment signed by 18 MPs — including 14 Conservatives — boasts other senior figures such as former cabinet ministers David Davis and Jeremy Hunt, alongside the chair of the international development committee, Sarah Champion.
More on this from Political Correspondent Ashley Cowburn here.
Who backed foreign aid amendment?
On the Conservative side, backing the amendment were: Andrew Mitchell, former chief whip, Jeremy Hunt, former health secretary, David Davis, former Brexit secretary, Karen Bradley, former NI secretary, Tom Tugendhat, Tobias Ellwood, Sir Peter Bottomley, Caroline Nokes, Sir Desmond Swayne, Derek Thomas, Sir Edward Leigh, Harriett Baldwin, Sir Roger Gale, Neil Parish, Derek Thomas and Anthony Mangnall.
They are joined on the Labour side by: Dame Margaret Hodge, Meg Hillier and Sarah Champion.
Education catch-up tsar Sir Kevan Collins resigns
Boris Johnson has been dealt a major blow as the schools’ coronavirus catch-up tsar quit his post in protest at a funding package he described as falling “far short of what is needed” to aid the pandemic recovery.
Sir Kevan Collins’ resignation follows the government’s announcement of a £1.4bn package aimed at alleviating the impact of the crisis on children’s learning, but the funding – amounting to £50 per pupil – was denounced by school leaders as “pitiful”.
Shortly after education secretary Gavin Williamson unveiled the plans, Sir Kevan, who was reported to have called for £15bn worth of funding and 100 extra hours of teaching per pupil, was said to be on the brink of quitting.
More on this from Ashley Cowburn, Political Correspondent, here.
Catch-up funding pot is ‘huge’, says minister
Victoria Atkins, the Home Office minister doing the news round this morning, has defended the government’s education recovery fund as “very much focused on what we can deliver and deliver quickly”.
The £1.4bn allocated to help pupils catch up after coronavirus was “huge”, the Louth MP said on Sky News despite Sir Kevan Collins’ resignation statement calling it a “half-hearted approach” that “falls far short of what is needed”.
Should Williamson resign?
Asked whether Gavin Williamson should carry on as education secretary if reports he was overruled on catch-up funding were correct, Victoria Atkins said: “What I do know is that Gavin is absolutely committed to giving every single child in this country the very best start that we can.”
Ms Atkins told Times Radio: “I wouldn’t just, please, look at the £1.4 billion, I think we need to look at the additional funding over the last year, it’s an additional £3 billion and it’s very, very targeted money.”
Sir Kevan Collins resignation is ‘huge loss'
Anne Longfield, former children’s commissioner for England, said the resignation of Sir Kevan Collins was a “huge loss” that could leave a generation of children “potentially stranded”.
She told BBC Breakfast: “He won’t have done this lightly and the scale of the difference between the proposals that he’s poured his energies into over recent months, and what’s been put forward, I think, really will be what has done it for him.
“We’ve seen in other areas of course spending has needed to happen during the pandemic. Furlough, not least. None of us would say that wasn’t money well spent, but somehow when it gets to children and education there’s so many hoops that need to be jumped through.
“So, wherever this lives, whether it’s in Number 10 or whether it’s in the Treasury, this is a false economy.
“Government says it wants to level up, this is at the heart of levelling up and not to do so will really leave a whole generation of children potentially stranded.”
G7 leaders in talks over deal to fight threat of new pandemics
Leaders of G7 nations are discussing an information sharing arrangement to reduce the risk of future pandemics and global health threats.
Early identification of issues with animal and environmental health are considered important to prevent diseases spreading, according to the UK government.
Health ministers from the G7 nations will meet at Oxford University on Thursday and Friday in an effort to agree the details.
Jane Dalton has more details here.
Government ‘open minded’ about extending furlough scheme
The UK Government is “open minded” about extending the furlough scheme, Michael Gove said.
Speaking ahead of the UK four-nations summit on tackling Covid, Mr Gove said the initiative, which sees the taxpayer pay cash towards workers’ wages, had been a “huge success” that was only possible “thanks to the broad shoulders of the UK Treasury”.
Asked about a possible return to austerity, the cabinet office minister insisted higher government spending in response to the pandemic would continue.
Labour calls on Sunak to back Biden’s global tax plan
Labour has called on Rishi Sunak to back the global minimum rate of corporation tax put forward by Joe Biden ahead of a meeting of G7 finance ministers tomorrow.
Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, wrote to the chancellor urging him to take the opportunity to “show leadership on curbing tax avoidance”.
The G7 is united in support for the plan with the exception of the UK. A US Treasury official said yesterday that Washington expects full endorsement of the plan.
What does the furlough scheme look like now?
The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, known commonly as furlough, currently pays 3.4 million workers up to 80 per cent of their wage if they cannot work due to the pandemic.
The scheme is set to end on 30 September, after three months of phasing payments back into the hands of employers.
From 1 July, the government will only pay 70 per cent of wages, up to £2187.50 a month, while employers will be expected to fund the next 10 per cent. The following month, the government proportion will drop to 60 per cent.
More than 11.5 million employees and 1.3 million employers have been supported by furlough since coronavirus arrived, according to government figures.
Nicola Sturgeon will today argue for the scheme to be extended beyond September, with Michael Gove saying the government is open to the idea.
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