Britain has a duty to restore the aid budget

Editorial: The ‘rebels’ have been mislabelled – it is the government that is rebelling against its own 2019 manifesto commitment

Tuesday 08 June 2021 00:24

To a casual observer unfamiliar with Commons procedure, it might have seemed odd that a debate on a bill establishing a high-tech research agency was thought a suitable setting to reinstate the UK’s target for international aid.

The rebels who wanted to restore the aid budget, and with it Britain’s global reputation, claimed that their ruse was in order. It seems it was not, and that Speaker Hoyle was unwilling to follow Speaker Bercow’s example of muscular chairmanship by allowing the amendment to be called. Thus was the argument closed down – for now. As the speaker made abundantly clear, he wants the Commons to make an “effective” decision on the matter, not merely the debate now scheduled, and that he will ensure it does, and without more delay. 

The issue will not go away, therefore, and neither will the shame of what the British government has done, no matter how many concessions it punts around to peel away some of the rebel Conservatives. An emergency debate will indeed be held, albeit with non-binding conseqiences, and the amendment may well turn up again in the House of Lords.

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