Ian Blackford accuses UK Government of running away from ‘moral and legal’ responsibilities over foreign aid cut

Ian Blackford has accused the UK Government of running away from its “moral and legal” responsibilities over the cut to foreign aid.

The SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford on Wednesday accused the Prime Minister of "inhumane cuts" following the plans to slash overseas aid from 0.7 per cent of gross national income to 0.5 per cent.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Blackford claimed Mr Johnson was set to walk into the G7 as the only leader cutting development aid.

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He said: “At the very moment when global leadership is needed more than ever, this Tory Government is walking away from millions still struggling from the Covid pandemic and a poverty pandemic.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford accused the UK Government of running away from its responsibilities

“The Prime Minister has been hiding on this issue for months. This is a government on the run from their own moral and legal responsibilities, and on the run from their own backbenchers.

“But the Prime Minister can’t hide from this issue any longer and he can’t run from democracy in this House.

“Will he stand up today and commit to a straight vote in this House on his inhumane cuts, as demanded by the Speaker? Prime Minister, it is a very simple question – yes or no?”.

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Mr Johnson then claimed “lefty propaganda” was misrepresenting his government’s position on foreign aid, despite the rebellion being led by Conservative MPs, including former prime minister Theresa May.

He said: “I think the answer is clear. The people of this country … were given a vote on this and many other matters very recently and I think they adjudicated very firmly in favour of the balance the government is striking.

“We’re in very, very difficult financial times, but he shouldn’t believe the lefty propaganda you hear from people opposite.

"We’re spending £10 billion overseas. All they want to do is run this country down when we’ve increased spending on girls’ education alone to almost half a billion pounds.”

Responding, Mr Blackford joked: “I don’t think I’ve ever heard the previous prime minister [Mrs May] called a leftist propagandist.”

The Ross, Skye and Lochaber urged action, insisting people were “dying and they need our help”.

He continued: “This is pretty basic stuff. After a year dealing with a deadly virus, why can’t the Prime Minister get this?

"In a pandemic – no-one is safe until everyone is safe. Now is the time support each other, not walk away from those in need.

“The Prime Minister has the nerve to brag about his government’s support for the vulnerable – and at the very same time he is slashing aid by £4.5bn.

“In the week of the G7, what kind of world leader washes their hands of responsibility by cutting water and hygiene projects by more than 80 per cent in the middle of a global pandemic?”

Asked on Tuesday for a yes or no answer on whether MPs would have a vote on the issue, the Prime Minister’s spokesman ruled it out.

He said: "We believe we are acting in accordance with the Act as set out.

“There are certainly no plans to bring forward a vote”.

Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle had on Monday accused ministers of taking MPs "for granted" by not bring forward a substantive vote.

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