PM under fire on foreign aid cuts as Javid warns NHS waiting list could soar amid covid crisis – follow live

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Today’s daily politics briefing

Calls for the government to reverse its planned cuts to foreign aid have intensified, with Labour and the Archbishop of Canterbury saying rumours that a group of philanthropists will help plug the gap underlines the harm caused by the move.

According to The Sunday Times, organisations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will today pledge more than £100m to a one-year plan to partially replace the cuts in the UK’s aid budget.

“This is a shameful moment for this Conservative government,” shadow international development secretary Preet Kaur Gill said in a statement.

Boris Johnson’s administration previously announced a reduction in foreign aid from 0.7 per cent of national income – which is enshrined in law – to 0.5 per cent, a change equating to a £4bn decrease. Ministers blamed internal struggles caused by the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Sajid Javid has warned that NHS waiting lists could rise to 13 million in the coming months as the health service grapples with the Covid third wave on top of a huge backlog of treatment.

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Government urged to reverse foreign aid cuts

Labour and the Archbishop of Canterbury have urged the government to reverse its move to slash foreign aid, saying a report that a group of philanthropists will help plug the gap underlines the harm caused by the decision.

It comes after The Sunday Times published a story in which it was revealed organisations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will on Sunday pledge more than £100m to a one-year plan to partially replace the cuts in the UK’s aid budget, with the funding to target projects tackling preventable diseases and family planning.

The paper reported the move by the string of charities, which also includes the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, to donate to projects previously funded by Britain was aimed at embarrassing Boris Johnson.

“This is a shameful moment for this Conservative government,” Labour’s shadow international development secretary Preet Kaur Gill said in a statement. “As low income countries continue to battle against the pandemic, this contribution to try and plug some of the gap left by the government’s slashing of life saving aid programmes is welcome, but it will only be able to prevent the very worst of the damage caused.”

She added: “The government’s decision to cut the aid budget, against the wishes of parliament, has already cost lives and they must reverse it or put to a vote as soon as possible.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, applauded the philanthropists’ move, but said he was praying for the government to restore its promises on aid. “These diseases cause unimaginable suffering and entirely preventable deaths,” he told The Sunday Telegraph.

Sam Hancock11 July 2021 08:36

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Hello, and welcome to The Independent’s UK politics live blog. Stay tuned as we give you the latest updates as Sunday’s political programmes get going.

Sam Hancock11 July 2021 08:32

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