Proposed foreign aid cuts are immoral, unlawful and ministers tried to push them through without a vote in the Commons because they knew they would lose, the former Brexit secretary and Conservative backbench MP David Davis has said.
Davis told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the UK was unique among the G7 in planning the 42% cut, and said it would kill thousands of people. He cited legal advice given to Tory backbenchers by Ken Macdonald in which he denounced the planned cuts.
“The government, if it wanted to do this, should have brought it to the House of Commons and said: ‘This is in our manifesto but the duress we’re facing now means we have to do this’ and so ask the house to approve it. It didn’t.
“The reason it didn’t was because the majority of the house doesn’t agree with it. That’s what we’re going see today if we get the vote. And I’m afraid that that’s frankly, in my judgment, a morally poor position for the government.”
Ministers have been warned that the proposals, which call for about £4bn in cuts, would leave about 70,000 people in the world’s largest refugee settlement without health services. About 100,000 refugees in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, would also be without water before the deadly cyclone season, aid agencies said.
In the run-up to a possible Commons vote on Monday, a group of those working in the area wrote to the Foreign Office minister for Asia, Nigel Adams. They warned that the cuts would “significantly undermine efforts to address humanitarian needs” in the camp.
On Monday, the former prime minister Gordon Brown said now was not the time for the cuts. He told BBC Breakfast: “It’s a life-and-death issue, we’re actually deciding who lives and who dies, particularly at this point where if we withdraw the money for vaccination it’s the equivalent of pulling away the needle from a kid or from an adult who is sick who needs the vaccination, a 90% cut, for example, in support for polio vaccination.”