The UK development sector is still reeling after the sudden announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on June 16, 2020, that the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) will be fully merged into the Foreign Commonwealth Office.
As the shock of the announcement subsidies, there is a growing clamor of critical voices hailing the decision as a terrible mistake. Three former-UK Prime Ministers — Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, and David Cameron — have all publicly denounced the merger as short-sighted and detrimental to UK’s global influence and reach. The UK International Development Select Committee has signaled that the move is not constructive, citing evidence from a new report (released just prior to the Prime Minister's announcement), which highlighted the vital importance of an independent DFID to the UK’s global leadership on development. BOND, the UK network representing non-governmental organizations in the development sector, published a blog predicting the merger's negative impact on the world’s poor. Newspapers as diverse as the Financial Times and The Guardian have also been critical. The Guardian reported that staff morale within DFID is at an all-time low: Many are upset and angered by the sudden announcement and concerned about the future of their jobs.
Despite the rush of criticism, there have also been some who welcome the move. James Cowan, the Chief Executive Officer of the UK demining organization, the Halo Trust, claims that the merger will allow the government to take a more coordinated approach to UK foreign and development policy. Dr. Mukesh Kapila, the former head of the conflict and humanitarian affairs within DFID, says the move is long overdue.