UK Government labelled 'cynical and cruel' after Downing Street say MPs won't get to vote on foreign aid cut

The UK Government has been labelled “cynical and cruel” after Downing Street insisted there were “no plans” to have MPs vote on the foreign aid cut.

Boris Johnson was spared a humiliating defeat on Monday after the Speaker failed to select an amendment on the issue.

Tory rebels had been set to defeat the government after rebelling against the plans to cut overseas aid from 0.7 per cent of gross national income to 0.5 per cent.

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Now Downing Street appears to have confirmed the issue won’t be voted on by MPs despite a request from the Speaker.

The Prime Minister's spokesman today confirmed the cut would not go to a vote.

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.

He said: “We are the elected members. This House should be taken seriously and the government should be accountable to it.

“So I wish and hope very quickly that this is taken on board. I don't want this to drag on. If not, we will then look to find other ways in which we can move forward.”

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The decision prompted a furious response from the SNP’s foreign affairs spokesperson Alyn Smith, who called it “bone headed”.

He said: “This week has been Tory politics at its most cynical and cruel.

”Sticking to the 0.7 per cent commitment was a Tory manifesto promise barely months ago.

”Of course Covid has changed things at home, but this argument falls down because it has hit the developing world too, harder than us.

”People will die because of this and the Tories are entirely to blame.”

The Speaker granted an emergency debate on the cuts for Tuesday afternoon, but MPs will not vote on them.

Liberal Democrat MP Jamie Stone said: “The government’s decision to cut aid for the poorest and most vulnerable people on the planet is as stupid as it is cruel.

“Being robbed of the opportunity to vote down their plans points to the sorry way in which our Parliament is working – or more accurately not working.

"Today’s debate is an opportunity for us to showcase our opposition with speeches, not deeds – and I severely regret that this is the case.”

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford described the government as “morally bankrupt”.

He told the Commons: “Cutting the aid budget is not only cruel and counter-productive on its own terms, it’s also an isolated act of the UK Government increasingly alone on the world stage.

“The UK is virtually the only country that has cut its aid spending. Nearly every other wealthy country has recognised the greater necessity of helping those in need at this unprecedented time of humanitarian crisis.

“The government’s timing couldn’t be worse. International opinion on these cuts is crystal clear. It is rightly seen as a disgraceful abdication of the UK’s international responsibilities in a year where we should be showing some international leadership with the G7 and the COP26.”

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