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Rebel Tories fail to reverse foreign aid cut as PM to meet social media firms

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Tory rebels have lost their bid to reverse the government’s £4bn annual cut to the foreign aid budget, losing by a margin of 35 votes.

The government’s victory – by 333 to 298 votes – comes after Keir Starmer warned that failure to defeat the government on Tuesday would make the cuts “not temporary but indefinite”.

Former Conservative prime minister Theresa May was among the Tory MPs who rebelled against the reduction of the aid budget. “We made a promise to the poorest people in the world. The government has broken that promise. This motion means that promise may be broken for years to come,” she said.

Charity bosses were quick to criticise the result, with a senior figure at Save the Children saying that “children will die as a result” of it.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson will urge social media firms to take tougher action over racism in a meeting today after the abuse of England football players, which he described as being “from the dark spaces of the internet”.

Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka have been the target of racist hate online after England’s defeat in the Euro 2020 final, which saw all three players miss penalties.

While ministers have condemned the abuse, England football star Tyrone Mings has accused Priti Patel of “stoking the fire” by criticising the team for taking the knee against racism as “gesture politics”.

Key Points

  • Tory rebels lose bid to reverse government’s foreign aid cuts
  • Foreign aid cuts will be ‘indefinite’ if government wins vote, Starmer warns
  • Boris Johnson to meet with social media firms over racist abuse of England players
  • Mings criticises Patel for failing to support players taking the knee
  • PM tells racist social media trolls to ‘crawl back under rock’…
  • …and refuses to say if he would take the knee

07:59 , Andy Gregory

Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of UK politics. Stay tuned for rolling updates.

Tyrone Mings accuses Priti Patel of ‘stoking the fire’

08:09 , Andy Gregory

Here is the full quote from Tyrone Mings, who responded to a tweet by Priti Patel by saying: “You don’t get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as ‘Gesture Politics’ & then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we’re campaigning against, happens.”

The home secretary had said she was “disgusted” that “players who have given so much for our country this summer have been subject to vile racist abuse on social media”, adding: “It has no place in our country and I back the police to hold those responsible accountable.”

At the outset of the tournament, Ms Patel said fans had a right to boo players taking the knee at the start of games and dodged a question about whether she would boo herself.

My colleague Conrad Duncan has the full story here:




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England defender accuses Priti Patel of ‘stoking the fire’ over racist abuse of players

Tory peer urges party to ‘stop the culture wars that are feeding division’

08:15 , Andy Gregory

The home secretary and prime minister had already come in for criticism ahead of Tyrone Mings’ tweet yesterday.

Among critics was former Tory party chair Baroness Warsi, who responded to the home secretary’s post by saying that “we as Conservatives need to think about our role in feeding this culture in our country”, adding: “If we ‘whistle’ and the ‘dog’ reacts we cant be shocked if it barks and bites.”

Tyrone Mings ‘is completely right’, says Tory MP

08:31 , Andy Gregory

Tory MP Johnny Mercer, who resigned as defence minister in April, has backed Tyrone Mings following the football player’s criticism of the home secretary, adding that he is “very uncomfortable with the position we Conservatives are needlessly forcing ourselves into”.

He added: “Politics needs more courage – perhaps a lesson we can take from our football team.”

The Plymouth MP had voiced his objections to his Tory colleagues’ aversion to players’ taking the knee back at the start of the tournament.

Mings ‘has every right to be angry’, FA inclusion advisor says

08:34 , Andy Gregory

A member of the FA’s Inclusion Advisory Board has said Tyrone Mings is right to be angry with Priti Patel for failing to condemn the booing of players taking the knee.

Former footballer Marvin Sordell, who said racism was a “big factor” in his retirement from the sport, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “He has every right to be angry, just as I am, just as I’m sure millions of people are across this country as well.

“Because there was a massive opportunity to show strong leadership at that point. And I think it was very clear at that point, it was very clear before that, that players taking the knee wasn’t anything more than them trying to raise awareness for a topic that has again come up.

“There was an opportunity then to really back the players in what they’re trying to do, what they’re trying to achieve, the positive message that they’re trying to talk about, and yet that was dismissed and people were allowed the opportunity to react negatively to something that was purely positive.”

Boris Johnson dodges question on taking the knee after racist abuse of England players

08:40 , Andy Gregory

As criticism of he and his government’s stance on the booing of players taking the knee intensified last night, Boris Johnson dodged a question on whether he would take the gesture as England players had.

The prime minister, who had previously claimed “I don’t believe in gestures, I believe in substance”, responded: ““On Black Lives Matter and the importance of that, I will simply repeat what I’ve always said many many times.

“I think people should feel free to show their respect and show how much they condemn racism in this country in any way that they choose.”

He added: “I was [at Wembley] last night and I noted that the whole crowd was respectful when our players took the knee and I didn’t hear a single boo.”



a baseball player pitching a ball on a field


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Boris Johnson dodges question on taking the knee after racist abuse of England players

Boris Johnson tells racists who abused England team to ‘crawl back under a rock’

08:50 , Andy Gregory

Here was Boris Johnson’s condemnation yesterday of those directing racist abuse at England players:

The prime minister had earlier been subject to criticism over his failure to defend the England team’s decision to take the knee to protest against racism, with pundit Gary Neville also taking aim at his own history of discriminatory comments, which included likening Muslim women to “letterboxes”.

Minister defends Priti Patel

09:00 , Andy Gregory

A senior government minister has defend Priti Patel after England footballer Tyrone Mings accused the home secretary of “stoking the fire” in relation to racism.

“The home secretary has repeatedly taken a stand against racism,” chief secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclay told Sky News. “The home secretary herself has been the subject of appalling online racist abuse.

“She has consistently condemned racist abuse online and she has taken action as home secretary against some of the extreme right-wing groups that are responsible for this.”

‘If you abuse anyone you’re not an England fan,’ Harry Kane says

09:17 , Andy Gregory

Harry Kane has told those who racially targeted some of England’s players after the Euro 2020 final defeat that “we don’t want you”.

The England captain tweeted:

The team’s manager Gareth Southgate had previously described the abuse directed at his players as “unforgivable”.



Harry Kane holding a racket on a court


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Harry Kane: If you abuse anyone you’re not an England fan and we don’t want you

Row over failure to condemn fans’ booing ‘goes to the heart of the leadership we expect from ministers’

09:25 , Andy Gregory

ITV News’ political editor Robert Peston has suggested that the ensuing row over Boris Johnson and his ministers’ failure to take the lead in defending players taking the knee against racism “goes to the heart of the leadership we expect from ministers and the prime minister”.

MPs granted binding vote on UK’s huge overseas aid cuts in government U-turn

09:41 , Andy Gregory

In parliamentary news, Jacob Rees-Mogg has said the government will offer MPs a binding vote on its furiously contested foreign aid cuts.

In what would mark an initial victory for outraged Tory backbenchers and another major U-turn by the prime minister, the Commons leader said MPs would, on Tuesday, be able to give “a yes or no answer” on reversing the cuts – expected to total £4bn – from next January.

However, with Mr Rees-Mogg offering scant detail on the offer, a statement by chancellor Rishi Sunak later cast some doubt on the vote’s scope.

Our deputy political editor Rob Merrick has the details here:



a man sitting on a beach


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MPs granted binding vote on UK’s huge overseas aid cuts in government U-turn

Tory MP criticises colleague’s ‘cruel’ WhatsApp messages about Rashford’s penalty miss

09:58 , Andy Gregory

Tory MP Natalie Elphicke has come under fire after a leaked WhatsApp message to a group of Tory MPs showed her suggesting Marcus Rashford should have spent more time “perfecting his game”, rather than “playing politics”.

While she later apologised to the Manchester United star, who has forced the government into two embarrassing U-turns over free school meals in the past year, her Tory colleague Christian Wakeford was among those who continued to condemn the remark, which he described as “cruel and wrong”.

Marcus Rashford praised for statement

10:17 , Andy Gregory

Marcus Rashford is winning plaudits for a statement he released last night in which vowed that he would “never apologise for who I am and where I came from”.

Issuing the words as he and his teammates faced racist abuse online and hours after a mural of him was defaced in Withington, Rashford said that while he “can take critique of my performance all day long” he would never be sorry for being a “black man from Withington and Wythenshawe, South Manchester”.

indy100 has more on the effusive praise for his words:



Marcus Rashford playing with a ball


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15 top reactions to Marcus Rashford’s powerful statement

Marcus Rashford mural covered in messages of support after racist graffiti

10:20 , Andy Gregory

Hundreds of messages of support have been added to Marcus Rashford’s mural in Manchester after it was defaced with racist graffiti, my colleague Peter Stubley reports.

Residents in Withington, Manchester, posted sticky notes, love hearts and England flags on the black bin liners covering up the abuse, which appeared shortly after the team’s loss to Italy on Sunday.

Police are investigating the incident as racially aggravated criminal damage.



a group of people standing in front of a crowd


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In pictures: Marcus Rashford mural covered in messages of support after racist graffiti

Cartoonist in Qatar mocks England over World Cup criticism

10:40 , Andy Gregory

A cartoon has appeared in a Doha daily mocking the English media over criticism of its organisation of the 2022 World Cup in the wake of England’s hosting of Euro 2020 final.

The sketch appears to take aim at the violence seen as ticketless fans breached Wembley stadium ahead of the game. Our international editor David Harding offers additional interpretation:

Qatar has faced harrowing allegations over the treatment of migrant workers involved in the country’s preparation for the tournament.

One report by The Guardian suggests that, in the 10 years since Qatar was chosen to host the World Cup, more than 6,500 migrant labourers have died, many likely in connection with the construction of seven new stadiums and their surrounding infrastructure.

‘Show the north some love,’ and level up with greater speed, Tory MPs warn Boris Johnson

10:54 , Andy Gregory

A 50-strong group of northern Conservative MPs has demanded that Boris Johnson must begin delivering on his levelling up agenda “at pace” if “real progress” is to be made this summer, our political correspondent Ashley Cowburn reports.

Calling on the prime minister to “show the north some love”, the Northern Research Group urged the government to commit to a further year of funding for so-called red wall seats.

Publishing a 10-point plan, the group said road tax must be abolished and also demanded the end of fuel duty, which it suggested should be placed a with a road pricing system with revenue raised retained in the north.



Boris Johnson wearing a suit and tie standing in a garden


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‘Show the north some love,’ and level up with greater speed, Tory MPs warn Boris Johnson

Tory MP says Tyrone Mings ‘completely right’ to accuse Priti Patel of ‘stoking the fire’ of racism

11:09 , Andy Gregory

Our deputy political editor Rob Merrick has more details on Johnny Mercer’s claim that Tyrone Mings is “absolutely right”, following the England defender’s accusation that Priti Patel had “stoked” the racism faced by players following the team’s defeat against Italy.

The Tory MP, who labelled politics a “cesspit” as he quit as defence secretary in April, said that he was “very uncomfortable with the position we Conservatives are needlessly forcing ourselves into” and suggested politicians should look to England’s national team for a necessary example of bravery.



Priti Patel, Tyrone Mings looking at the camera


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Tory MP says Tyrone Mings is ‘completely right’ to accuse Priti Patel of ‘stoking the fire’ of racism

Tory minister refuses to say if Patel was wrong to accuse England players of ‘gesture politics’

11:24 , Andy Gregory

In stark contrast to his Tory colleague Johnny Mercer, the chief secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclay has refused to say whether Priti Patel was wrong to suggest that players had engaged in “gesture politics” by taking the knee against racism.

Mr Barclay said Ms Patel has “consistently condemned” racist abuse online and was taking steps to find and root out those responsible for the criminal behaviour, but would not be drawn on her comments about taking the knee, Matt Mathers reports.



Stephen Barclay wearing a suit and tie walking down a street


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Tory minister refuses to say if Patel was wrong to accuse England players of ‘gesture politics’

Tory rebellion on foreign aid cut shrinks ahead of vote

11:40 , Andy Gregory

Ahead of the vote on foreign aid cuts this afternoon, the size of the expected Tory rebellion is reported to have diminished by 14 MPs.

They have purportedly been swayed by a pledge to recommit to typical levels of foreign aid contributions once Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts indicate underlying UK debt is falling and the country is not borrowing for day-to-day spending.

Our chief political commentator notes that some 72 MPs are expected to speak in this afternoon’s debate, notably former PM and leading critic of the cuts Theresa May.

He suggests that 44 Tories will need to vote against the government – or twice as many to abstain – for the cuts to be reversed in January.

More than half a tonne of plastic waste dumped outside Downing Street

11:48 , Andy Gregory

Greenpeace campaigners have dumped 625kg of plastic waste outside Downing Street in a bid to urge Boris Johnson to stop the UK’s mass exportation of its own waste overseas.

The more than half a tonne of plastic is equivalent to the amount the UK dumps on countries around the world every 30 seconds, the group says.

Sadiq Khan: The government has a responsibility to lead from the front

11:58 , Andy Gregory

Writing for Independent Voices, Sadiq Khan says:

“Sunday night illustrated perfectly why England’s players continue to take the knee and I believe it’s shameful that they haven’t had more backing for their stance.

“The reality is the government has a responsibility to lead from the front and set an example in the fight against racism. By refusing to condemn those booing English players for taking a knee, it emboldens those who peddle in this kind of hatred and discrimination.”

The London mayor added that “social media companies must get their act together and do far more to drain this poison from their platforms” – and “if that means not relying on algorithms, which are seemingly incapable of identifying so much racism, and instead employing more people to take down abusive posts then so be it”.



a man standing in front of a crowd


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This is what we must do after the vile racist abuse of England players | Sadiq Khan

Tory rebels should speak to ‘majority’ over foreign aid cuts, expert says

12:14 , Andy Gregory

MPs arguing in favour of reversing the government’s foreign aid cuts “should speak to the majority of people” who are “ready to listen to transparent and clear information” about its benefits, an expert has said.

Speaking ahead of this afternoon’s vote, Dr Catarina Thomson of the University of Exeter said that her research had shown that while “those most seduced by hostile messages about funding foreign aid are those who are fans of populist politicians, other people are significantly less susceptible”.

“Rhetoric about putting those at home first, or that it is not the UK’s responsibility to help other countries, does work, but not on everyone,” said the security and strategic studies lecturer, adding: “The future of global development might not be as bleak as previously feared in the age of populism, as shown by the effective pressure MPs have put on the government.”

Vandals who defaced Rashford mural ‘should be educated’

12:28 , Zoe Tidman

Vandals who defaced a mural of England footballer Marcus Rashford should be educated rather than punished, the founder of a community street art project has suggested.

Withington Walls founder Ed Wellard told ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Tuesday that the artist who created the mural in Withington, Manchester, was coming back to work on it this morning.

The mural was defaced within hours of England’s loss to Italy in the Euro 2020 final, in what police are treating as a racist incident.

When asked what punishment the vandals should be given, Mr Wellard said: “Racism is learned behaviour, I think it should be more about education than punishment.

“I don’t think you’re going to change people’s minds with punishment.”

PA

PM told to apologise for failing to support players ‘taking the knee’

13:01 , Zoe Tidman

Boris Johnson has been challenged to apologise for failing to condemn the booing of footballers who “take the knee” ahead of games.

It comes after England footballer Tyrone Mings accused home secretary Priti Patel of “stoking the fire” of racism by dismissing taking the knee as gesture politics.

Andrew Woodcock, our political editor, has the full story:



a group of people playing football on a field


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Boris Johnson urged to apologise for failing to support football players taking the knee

Boris Johnson ‘called for nation to cheer and not to boo’, Downing Street says

13:35 , Andy Gregory

Downing Street has defended Boris Johnson and Priti Patel after England star Tyrone Mings accused the home secretary of “stoking the fires” of racism.

“The prime minister called for the nation to get behind and support the players, to cheer and not boo, before England had played a game in the tournament,” Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said.

“The home secretary is working every day to clamp down on hate crime, racism and violence. There is no place for racism in this country and she is backing the police to hold those responsible for this abuse accountable.”

The spokesman also indicated that Mr Johnson would be comfortable with England footballers taking a knee at a No 10 reception if one was held for them, saying: “I think the prime minister made his feelings clear. People should feel free to show their respect and show how much they condemn racism in this country in any way that they choose.”

He added: “We are speaking to the FA about how best to celebrate and honour the work of the players and the coaching staff in that tournament.”

Theresa May to vote against government on foreign aid

13:53 , Andy Gregory

Former prime minister Theresa May has said she will vote against Boris Johnson’s cuts to international aid plans today, accusing the government of “turning its back on some of the poorest people in the world”.

Our political editor Andrew Woodcock has the full story here:



a close up of a sign


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Theresa May to vote against Boris Johnson’s international aid cuts

Foreign aid cuts could be ‘indefinite’ if government wins crucial vote, Starmer warns

13:59 , Andy Gregory

Tory rebels and Sir Keir Starmer have warned that failure to defeat the government in a crucial Commons vote today could end forever the UK’s pledge to meet the United Nations target of spending 0.7 per cent of national income on foreign aid.

As our political editor Andrew Woodcock reports, Boris Johnson told MPs that plans set out by the Treasury would “provide certainty for our aid budget and an affordable path back to 0.7 per cent, while also allowing investment in other priorities, including the NHS, schools and the police”.

But the Labour leader warned that conditions set by Rishi Sunak meant the cut to 0.5 per cent would remain in place at least until the next election in 2024, meaning that the £4bn reduction in aid spending is “not temporary but indefinite”.

Theresa May ‘to defy three-line whip for first time in nearly 25 years’ over foreign aid

14:08 , Andy Gregory

Here’s more detail from Theresa May’s attempt to use her clout and insight as former prime minister to urge fellow Tories to rebel against her successor in Downing Street.

“I have been in this House for nearly a quarter of a century,” Ms May told MPs. “During that time I have never voted against a three-line whip from my party.

“As prime minister I suffered at the hands of rebels, I know what it is like to see party colleagues voting against their government.”

But she added: “We made a promise to the poorest people in the world. The government has broken that promise. This motion means that promise may be broken for years to come.”

PM ‘opened Cabinet meeting by condemning racist attacks on England players’, Downing Street says

14:14 , Andy Gregory

According to his spokesman, Boris Johnson began a meeting of his Cabinet today by condemning the racist attacks England players were targeted with after the Euro final.

“He said the abuse was utterly disgraceful and had emerged from the dark spaces of the internet,” the prime minister’s official spokesman told reporters.

“He said he would use today’s meeting with social media firms to reiterate the urgent need for action ahead of tougher laws coming into force through the Online Harms Bill.”

The spokesman added that social media companies should “do everything they can to identify these people”, including handing over details of those who posted racist content.

14:38 , Andy Gregory

Boris Johnson is to host social media representatives at Downing Street to discuss online abuse.

Representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are expected, alongside those from TikTok, Snapchat, Microsoft and Amazon Kids UK, according to No 10.

Government’s conditions for reversing foreign aid cuts ‘will never be met’, says Tory MP

14:50 , Andy Gregory

A Conservative MP has warned the conditions proposed by the government for reversing its foreign aid cuts – said to have assuaged more than a dozen Tory rebels – “will never be met”.

The Treasury has pledged to recommit to previous levels of foreign aid contributions once Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts indicate underlying UK debt is falling and the country is not borrowing for day-to-day spending.

But Andrew Mitchell warned: “This is no compromise at all. It is a fiscal trap for the unwary.

“It is quite possible that these conditions will never be met, and you don’t need to look in the crystal ball, you can read the book. It is indisputably the case that there has only been one occasion in the last two decades, in 2001, when these conditions would have been met.”

Ban online racists from football grounds for life, former FA chair says

15:23 , Andy Gregory

Racists who abused England players online should be given a lifetime ban from football grounds nationwide if convicted, a former Football Association chairman has said,

Pressing for a “one strike and they are out” approach, Lord Triesman told parliament there should be “no excuses, no second chances”.

He was among a number of peers at Westminster to condemn the racial hatred directed on social media at Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka Euro 2020 final.

Digital, culture, media and sport minister Baroness Barran said the government was aware that football banning orders (FBOs) – which currently last a maximum of 10 years – can have “a great effect on those implicated and it is one of the things we are looking at”.

15:25 , Andy Gregory

The abuse of black players has been fuelled by some politicians who had “in effect encouraged fans to boo the national team”, according to the former chair of the government’s Race Disparity Unit’s advisory group, Lord Woolley of Woodford.

Downing Street reception for England players ‘shelved’, journalist reports

15:45 , Andy Gregory

Plans to host England’s players at Downing Street this week have been “shelved”, according to The Guardian’s political correspondent.

Downing Street is yet to respond to a request for comment from The Independent and no other outlets have yet confirmed the report.

On LBC, host Shelagh Fogarty asked Tory MP Simon Hoare whether No 10 had “bottled it”.

While unable to shine any further light on the matter, Mr Hoare said he feared that any “misinterpretation” that the government only rolls out the red carpet in the event of total victory would send “the most frightful message” to young people that “if you don’t win, don’t bother taking part”.

Foreign aid cuts ‘categorically not a rejection of our global responsibilites’

16:00 , Andy Gregory

As he faced down a looming Tory rebellion in the Commons a moment ago, Rishi Sunak insisted that the government’s £4bn cuts to foreign aid are “categorically not a rejection of our global responsibilities”,

“This decision follows a path parliament explicitly envisaged when it enshrined the 0.7 per cent target in law”, Mr Sunak said, citing a clause he suggested “clearly foresaw the fiscal circumstances which might mean the target could not be met”.

“And let us be honest, if that test is not being met in the aftermath of the worst economic shock in 300 years, surely it never will,” the Chancellor said.

Mr Sunak alleged that, if he is defeated in the vote, “instead of responsibility, the House would in effect be voting to say no circumstances could ever justify a move”.

And he insisted the decision was “categorically not a rejection of our global responsibilities”, adding: “The UK will spend over £10bn this year on overseas development. According to the latest figures, that’s more of a proportion of our national income than all but two of the G7 countries – more than Japan, Canada, Italy and the United States.”

Tory rebels lose bid to reverse government’s international aid cuts

16:08 , Rory Sullivan

The government has won a vote in the House of Commons to keep the UK’s international aid spending at 0.5 per cent of GDP, after it was cut from 0.7 per cent.

Rebel Tories lost their bid to reverse the policy by 333 votes to 298.

Here’s our political editor Andrew Woodcock with more on this breaking story:



a close up of a sign


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Tory rebels fail in bid to reverse Boris Johnson’s international aid cuts

Charities decry result of foreign aid budget vote

16:25 , Rory Sullivan

MPs’ decision to back the government’s reduced level of aid funding “is a disaster for the world’s poorest people”, the chief executive of Oxfam GB has said.

Danny Sriskandarajah made the comment minutes after a majority of MPs voted in favour of keeping the UK’s lowered foreign aid spending of 0.5 per cent of national income.

He said: “With more people in need of humanitarian assistance than at any time since World War II, aid is needed more than ever.

“The cuts to UK aid are having a direct impact on thousands of lives today and a delay in restoring aid will be felt for generations to come in parts of the world ravaged by conflict, climate change and Covid-19 pandemic.”

Mr Sriskandarajah and other charity leaders have accused the government of putting politics above vulnerable communities abroad, and of failing to deliver its promise of a “Global Britain”.

Children will die ‘as a result’ of UK’s reduced foreign aid spending, says senior charity figure

16:35 , Rory Sullivan

“Children will die as a result” of the government’s decision to keep foreign aid spending at a reduced rate.

Speaking after a crucial vote on the issue on Tuesday afternoon, Kirsty McNeill, executive director of policy, advocacy & campaigns at Save the Children, said: “Today MPs have endorsed a proposal that will almost certainly mean the 0.7 per cent commitment does not return for this parliament, and cuts to aid will be indefinite. Children will die as a result.

“We have seen already the immense damage caused in some of the world’s poorest and most fragile countries – from 40 per cent cuts in aid for Yemen to 85 per cent cuts in British support for family planning. The vote today means that the cuts will not stop there. Faced by the biggest humanitarian crisis in a generation, the UK has stepped back when it needed to step up, and the consequences will be felt for years to come.”

Tory rebels

16:45 , Rory Sullivan

Anthony Mangnall, the Tory MP for Totnes and South Devon, was among those who defied the Tory whip to vote against the government over its controversial aid spending cuts.

Before the vote, he tweeted: “Returning the 0.7% is as much about Global Britain as trade, defence and diplomacy.”

UK has ‘needlessly’ retreated from world stage, charity boss warns

16:55 , Rory Sullivan

The result of today’s Commons vote on foreign aid spending is “a needless retreat from the world stage”, a charity boss has suggested.

Romilly Greenhill, the UK head of the anti-poverty One Campaign, said the decision to keep the budget at the reduced level of 0.5 per cent of GDP is “akin to cutting the RAF during the Battle of Britain”.

She added: “This so-called compromise effectively means the end of the 0.7 per cent commitment and will diminish Britain’s global standing.

“The real losers of this vote are the three million children who will no longer be able to go to school, the half a million children who will die from preventable diseases and the three million women and children who will go hungry.

“This is also a retreat from British values – and sends a sorry message about the type of country the UK wants to be.”

PM is ‘damaging’ Britain’s reputation, warns Starmer

17:05 , Rory Sullivan

Boris Johnson is “damaging” Britain’s global reputation by cutting its overseas aid budget, Keir Starmer has warned.

“Cutting aid to help the world’s poorest during a pandemic is callous – and not in our national interest,” he added.

Aid budget reduction undermines climate diplomacy, campaigners warn

17:20 , Rory Sullivan

The government’s decision to slash the foreign aid budget by 0.2 per cent of GDP will undermine the UK’s ability to conduct successful climate diplomacy, campaigners have said.

Rebecca Newsome, Greenpeace UK’s head of politics, said: “As well as this decision threatening millions of livelihoods in poorer nations around the world, the government has undermined the success of crunch climate talks later this year and ultimately global success in tackling the existential threat of climate change.

“Successful talks depend on trust and support from developed nations – something that the UK government may have soured permanently today.”

Police launch investigation into SNP’s use of donations

17:35 , Rory Sullivan

Police Scotland will investigate allegations that the SNP misused donations, the force has confirmed.

A spokesperson said the inquiry comes after Police Scotland received seven complaints “in relation to donations that were made to the Scottish National Party”.

The party allegedly diverted £600,000 of donations, which were supposed to be put towards the Scottish independence campaign. First minister Nicola Sturgeon has previously denied that any of the SNP’s money went missing.

My colleague Adam Forrest reports:



Nicola Sturgeon standing in a room


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Police Scotland launches investigation into SNP’s use of donations

UK international aid cut is ‘unpatriotic’, former Lib Dem leader says

17:50 , Rory Sullivan

The former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has called the government’s foreign aid budget cuts “unpatriotic”.

In a follow-up tweet, he said the government was prepared to spend £37bn “on a shambolic Test and Trace system” but not to supply food and drink to starving children.

Cuts to international development spending are ‘grave mistake’, warns Cameron

18:10 , Rory Sullivan

David Cameron is among the former prime ministers who has said the government is making “a grave mistake” by reducing international aid spending.

In a message posted on Twitter, he expressed his regret that Tory rebels were unable to restore the budget to 0.7 per cent of national income.

He added: “During a time of huge global challenges, we must not abandon the poorest in our world.

“Supporting countries in their development is not only the moral thing to do – helping them vaccinate against disease; educate their young people; tackle corruption and build better governance; and invest in renewable energy for a greener future – but it is also the means of turning the tide against this devastating pandemic, and is therefore in all our interests.”

Scotland will keep mandatory masks for ‘some time’, says Sturgeon

18:30 , Rory Sullivan

Masks will still need to be worn on public transport and in shops in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

In a briefing on Tuesday, the first minister said this would be probably be the case “for some time to come”.

Her government’s approach differs from England’s, as people south of border will no longer be required to wear masks from 19 July.



Nicola Sturgeon standing in front of a computer


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Scotland will keep mandatory masks ‘for some time to come’, says Sturgeon

New British flagship should be named after PM’s dog as it is his ‘pet project’, peer quips

18:49 , Rory Sullivan

The government’s proposed £200 million national flagship should be called Dilyn, the name of the prime minister’s dog, a peer has said.

Liberal Democrat Lord Wallace of Saltaire gave the suggestion after describing the idea as Boris Johnson’s “pet project”.

Speaking in the Lords, defence minister Baroness Goldie responded: “There may be much speculation about the name of the ship but it is premature to discuss that just now.

“That will announced in due course.”

British Red Cross calls for return to higher foreign aid budget

19:16 , Rory Sullivan

The British Red Cross has expressed its hope that the UK can increase its international aid budget “as soon as possible”, after a government cut was approved by MPs.

Mike Adamson, the organisation’s chief executive, said Britain needed to live up to its promise to be a “global ‘force for good’”.

“Humanitarian needs are soaring, created by a mix of Covid, climate and conflict. This exacerbates an already devastating reality for millions of people in need of urgent assistance.

“UK aid needs to be prioritised to the most vulnerable communities in the world where the suffering is forecast to reach unprecedented levels,” he added.

Slashing of foreign aid spending is sign of ‘Little England’, says Major

19:40 , Rory Sullivan

Like David Cameron, the former Tory prime minister Sir John Major has strongly criticised the government for going against its manifesto pledge of keeping the foreign aid budget at 0.7 per cent of national income.

After a decrease to 0.5 per cent was approved in the Commons, Sir Johns said the decision bore the “stamp of Little England, not Great Britain”.

“The government has blatantly broken its word and should be ashamed of its decision,” he said.

Timeline of what Johnson and Patel said about taking the knee

20:00 , Rory Sullivan

Critics have accused Boris Johnson and Priti Patel of fuelling racist abuse by not supporting the England football team’s decision to take the knee during Euro 2020.

This comes after three English footballers were racially abused on social media for missing penalties in the tournament’s final against Italy on Sunday.

Matt Mathers takes a look at what the pair have said about the anti-racism gesture:



Boris Johnson wearing a suit and tie


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Everything Boris Johnson and Priti Patel said about taking the knee

Rees-Mogg warns BBC against ‘left-wing’ hires

20:20 , Rory Sullivan

Jacob Rees-Mogg has warned the BBC against making “left-wing” appointments, despite the fact that the broadcaster has recently hired senior figures with strong links to the Conservative party.

The leader of the House of Commons made the comment in a podcast for the Conservative Home website.



Jacob Rees-Mogg wearing a suit and tie smiling and looking at the camera


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Jacob Rees-Mogg warns BBC against ‘left-wing’ appointments

Government being ‘unethical’ in seeking ‘herd immunity’, say scientists

20:40 , Rory Sullivan

Scientists have said the government has taken the “criminal decision” to pursue herd immunity by lifting coronavirus restrictions from 19 July.

In a letter signed by more than 1,200 scientists and medics, the approach was branded “unscientific and unethical”.

Here’s our political editor Andrew Woodcock with more on this story:



a man riding on the back of a truck


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Covid: Scientists accuse government of chasing ‘herd immunity by mass infection’

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