Boris Johnson announces merger of UK foreign and aid departments

LONDON — Boris Johnson announced plans on Tuesday to merge his governments Foreign and Commonwealth Office with the Department for International Development in a move designed to unite the U.K.s development and diplomatic priorities.

The prime minister said the coronavirus pandemic had shown that aid and foreign policy are “one and the same endeavor” and complained that the work of the two departments does not have a unified structure of oversight.

“One cardinal lesson of the pandemic is that distinctions between diplomacy and development are artificial and outdated,” he told the House of Commons. “I have decided to merge DfID with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to create a new department, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and this will unite our aid with our diplomacy and bring them together in our international effort.”

It means the foreign secretary will have the power to decide where aid goes, with the overall strategy overseen by the National Security Council, chaired by the prime minister. The new department will be formally established in September. Johnson insisted the aid budget would not be cut, but the current development secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, will lose her job.

The move will spark anger from foreign aid campaign groups, which have warned that abolishing DfID — which was created two decades ago — would mean “turning our backs on the worlds poorest people.”

Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell, a former development secretary, was outraged at the announcement. “Abolishing DfID would be a quite extraordinary mistake,” he told POLITICO. He said it would “destroy one of the most effective and respected engines of international development anywhere in the world” and prompt top figures to seek work elsewhere, “at a stroke destroying a key aspect of Global Britain.”

He also said it was “completely unnecessary as the prime minister exercises full control over DfIDs strategy and priorities through the National Security Council.”

Labour chair of the Commons international development committee Sarah Champion said the timing of the announcement, amid the coronavirus crisis, “Read More – Source

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