What does a Boris Premiership mean for international development?
Boris Johnson MP is now the Prime Minister, so what does this mean for the UK international development sector?
Well, for starters it means the UK Government now has its third Secretary of State for International Development in less than 12 months…
Who is the new Secretary of State for International Development?
Alok Sharma, Member of Parliament for Reading West since 2010, takes on the role having previously served as a junior Housing Minister and Employment Minister. Alok was also Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2016.
His long-term vision remains unclear, but on the day of his appointment, the new Secretary of State signalled that he is committed to the UK’s 0.7% aid spend, a statement that was warmly welcomed by our sector. We wrote to the new Secretary of State at the end of July welcoming him to the role and inviting him to meet with our members. We hope he takes us up on our invitation.
Is DFID safe?
It is well known that the new Prime Minister has not been the Department for International Development's (DFID) biggest supporter, calling for a reduction in aid spend and the department’s closure as a separate Whitehall department earlier this year. The new PM did come out in support of the 0.7% commitment in the weeks of campaigning prior to becoming the new Conservative Party Leader, but short-term support for DFID may not last.
According to Devex, experts have suggested that support for DFID, and the appointment of Alok Sharma, does not mean ‘a change of heart’, rather that the new Prime Minister is simply too busy dealing with Brexit to focus on wider government reforms.
We support calls for the new PM to focus on global challenges such as ending poverty and averting climate catastrophe as laid out clearly in this open letter by ODI.
With such uncertainty on the horizon, it remains to be seen what this new Government will do on the global stage. It is therefore more important than ever before to make the case for international development and a strong and independent DFID that exists to end poverty and leave no one behind.