Keir Starmer brands DFID announcement ‘pure distraction’

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Sir Keir Starmer has criticised Boris Johnson’s move to scrap the Department for International Development (DFID) in a merger with the Foreign Office.

The Prime Minister told MPs today that it was “outdated” to keep the departments separate and announced the creation of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

He said: “We must now strengthen our position in an intensely competitive world by making sensible changes.”

DFID is the governemnt department that works to tackle extreme poverty across the world.

But Sir Keir has branded the announcement as “the tactics of pure distraction”.

Referring to grim new unemployment figures, the coronavirus death toll and the government’s U-turn over free school meals, the Labour leader said: “This statement is intended to deflect attention from all of that.”

He added: “I want to see Britain as a moral force for good in the world, a force for global justice and co-operation, leading the world on global security, leading the global search for a vaccine, leading the fight against poverty, climate change and gender inequality.

“We don’t achieve that by abolishing one of the best performing and important departments.”

Mr Johnson argued that the new department will maintain DFID’s “idealism and sense of mission” but will also understand “the need to project UK values, UK policies and UK interests overseas”.

He added that the government remains committed to spending 0.7 per cent of GDP on aid.

The new department will be formally established in early September and will be headed up by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

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