Boris Johnson set for Commons showdown with rebel Tories over foreign aid

Prime Minister Boris Johnson returning to 10 Downing Street (Image: Tayfun Salci/ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock)

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Rebel Tories will try to force Boris Johnson into honouring an election pledge on foreign aid spending.

MPs will have the chance to vote to restore a commitment, enshrined in law, to allocate 0.7% of national income for overseas development assistance, according to Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg.

However, under plans outlined by the Treasury, the promise would only be brought back once the Budget deficit has been axed.

The Prime Minister triggered outrage last year by announcing the Government was abandoning its manifesto promise to spend 0.7% of national income on overseas development assistance (ODA).

Instead, it slashed the promise to 0.5% – a cut of £4billion.

The Treasury said: “The Government is committed to returning to a target of spending 0.7% of gross national income on ODA.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak
(Image: Getty Images)

“Today the Government has confirmed this will happen when the independent Office for Budget Responsibility’s fiscal forecast says that, on a sustainable basis, the UK is not borrowing to finance day-to-day spending and underlying debt is falling.”

Debt is not due to start falling until 2024-25 under forecasts announced at March's Budget.

The Government would still be borrowing money in 2025-26 under the predictions Chancellor Rishi Sunak revealed to MPs four months ago.

Senior Conservative figures as well as Opposition MPs have been calling for months for a Commons vote on the Government's decision to cut aid spending.

No10 has resisted a Commons showdown, fearing a humiliating backbench revolt could trigger a defeat.

But furious Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle last month urged ministers to schedule a vote.

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Mr Rees-Mogg told MPs there will be a Commons debate tomorrow on the Treasury update on international aid.

He answered "yes" when asked if overseas aid spending would be restored to 0.7% if MPs voted down the motion under consideration – paving the way for a crunch confrontation.

Lib Dem international development spokeswoman Layla Moran said: “Every single Tory MP stood on a manifesto commitment to keeping our promise to the poorest people in the world.

“ Liberal Democrats will continue to urge Boris Johnson to restore the aid budget now, and in full. Anything less is a broken promise."

Global Justice Now campaigns manager Daniel Willis said: “Despite this Government’s repeated attempts to deny MPs a vote on aid cuts, democracy has finally won out.”

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