UK premier make a formal public statement about DfID merger with Foreign Office
The UK government department responsible for overseas aid is set to merge with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Members of Parliament on Tuesday.
Johnson told MPs that the Department for International Development (DfID) would merge with the Foreign Office to align aid spending with UK aims, a move that has provoked controversy.
DfID operates in different countries across the world including Rwanda where it supports and finances interventions in agriculture activities, trade, education and infrastructure, among other sectors.
Prime Minister Johnson said the “long overdue reform” would ensure “maximum value” for taxpayers.
“For too long frankly, UK overseas aid has been treated like a giant cashpoint in the sky that arrives without any reference to UK interests,” the Prime Minister said.
Johnson said he would create a new “super-department” called the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, which would be overseen by foreign secretary Dominic Raab.
Opposition Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer dismissed the merger as “pure distraction”, saying that it would weaken UK influence, and that he would re-establish DfID if elected PM.
Others oppose move
Three former Prime ministers – Conservative David Cameron, and Labour’s Gordon Brown and Tony Blair – have also criticised the move.
Cameron said it would mean “less expertise, less voice for development at the top table and ultimately less respect for the UK overseas.”
Former PM Tony Blair said he was “utterly dismayed by the decision to abolish DfID.”
“We created DfID in 1997 to play a strong, important role in projecting British soft power. It has done so to general global acclaim,” he said in a tweet.
Blair described DfID as a leader in both programmes and thought in development, helping millions of the world’s most vulnerable to be relieved of poverty and killer diseases.
“The strategic aims of alignment with diplomacy and focus on new areas of strategic interest to Britain could be accomplished without its abolition,” he noted. “Wrong and regressive move.”