Boris Johnson scraps foreign aid department in major Whitehall shake-up


BORIS Johnson is set to announce the aid department is merging with the Foreign Office.

The Prime Minister is expected to confirm the move today after extensive calls from figures in his own party.

Boris Johnson is merging the departments

It follows a review into UK aid spending by crossbench peer Lord Bew.

The Bew review assessed the UK’s £14 billion aid budget as part of a review of how the UK interacts with the world.

The Department for International Development will now join with the FCO, with both sharing ministers since the February reshuffle.

Now Mr Johnson is expected to update the Commons on his plans to merge the departments after lunch today.

His statement will be called Global Britain, suggesting it forms part of his plan to expand beyond Europe after Brexit.

He will tell MPs Brexit has provided a huge opportunity to exploit markets beyond the EU.

International Development secretary Anne Marie Trevelyan is now being lined up for a new role as Minister of State in the Foreign Office.

 Ms Trevelyan controls the UK's £14bn foreign aid budget

Ms Trevelyan controls the UK’s £14bn foreign aid budget Credit: AFP – Getty

The merger is understood to be backed by both permanent secretaries in the departments, and all staff meeting is understood to have been called in the Foreign Office for Wednesday.

Britain’s foreign aid budget has faced constant scrutiny, with the PM under pressure last year after it emerged China and India received £151million in UK cash – a rise of 12 per cent.

The British taxpayer donated £70,315 to a Chinese project to encourage shoppers not to buy products made with pangolins, an endangered species whose scales are used in traditional medicines, while its meat is a high-end delicacy.

Meanwhile £20,062 of aid was spent on looking at how solar panels could power India’s railways.

Andrew Mitchell, a former international development secretary, said giving taxpayers’ cash to China had brought the spending into “disrepute”.

He said: “Spending hardearned taxpayers’ money in China, a country powering out of poverty and attaining superpower status brings Britain’s brilliant development work into disrepute.”

Figures show that the UK provided £1 in every £8 of foreign aid handed out by 29 major countries in £2018.