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Bishop's Stortford's MP votes with Government to cut international aid

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Bishop's Stortford's MP and her Conservative colleagues in Harlow and Saffron Walden bolstered the Government's cuts to international aid.

Julie Marson and neighbours Robert Halfon and Kemi Badenoch helped cement the budget at 0.5% of national income, despite a rebellion by other Tories including former Prime Minister Theresa May and ex-cabinet ministers Karen Bradley, Jeremy Hunt, David Davis, Stephen Crabb, Damian Green and Andrew Mitchell.

They were among 25 Conservatives who joined Labour and other parties in an attempt to reinstate the 0.7% figure - a 2019 General Election manifesto pledge - which was in place until earlier this year. The commitment was made law in 2015.

Robert Halfon, Kemi Badenoch and Julie Marson (49211790)
Robert Halfon, Kemi Badenoch and Julie Marson (49211790)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the House of Commons: "We shall act on that conviction by returning to 0.7% as soon as two vital tests have been satisfied. The first is that the UK is no longer borrowing to cover current or day-to-day expenditure. The second is that public debt, excluding the Bank of England, is falling as a share of GDP."

He said the cut was necessary to keep public debt down during the coronavirus pandemic.

Labour leader sir Keir Starmer said: "The case that we make is this: first, that the cut is wrong, because investing 0.7% on international aid is in Britain's national interest; secondly, because the economic criteria set out by the Chancellor would lead to an indefinite cut that is likely to last beyond this Parliament; and, thirdly, because it matters that this House keeps its word to the voters who elected us. Every member here—every member here—was elected on a manifesto to retain the 0.7% target, and it matters that we keep our promises to the world's poorest, particularly at such a time of global uncertainty."

Theresa May
Theresa May

Mr Johnson's predecessor Lady May said: "With GNI (Gross National Income) falling, our funding for aid was falling in any case. To reduce it from 0.7% to 0.5% is a double blow. This is not about palaces for dictators and vanity projects; it is about what cuts to funding mean: fewer girls will be educated, more girls and boys will become slaves, more children will go hungry and more of the poorest people in the world will die.

"I certainly doubt whether the tests will ever be met in five years' time.

"We made a promise to the poorest people in the world. The Government have broken that promise. This motion means that promise may be broken for years to come.

The cut amounts to almost £4 billion and has been criticised by charities and international aid agencies.

The motion yesterday (Tuesday, July 13) was carried with 333 votes for and 298 against. The Indie has asked Mrs Marson to comment on her decision to vote with the Government.

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