UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly wants to return to spending 0.7% of the UK’s gross national income (GNI) on official development assistance (ODA) in 2022, but he is facing opposition by the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, who wants to continue to provide 0.5% of ODA in 2022.
The government decided in 2020 to temporarily cut the ODA budget to 0.5% of GNI as a result of the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis on UK government finances. Johnson is facing increasing pressure to reverse the decision by a wide array of stakeholders and a growing number of members of parliament (MPs) from across all parties. 28 MPs from seven different political parties recently wrote a letter to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Minister, Dominic Raab, claiming that the government’s recent decision to not allow members of parliament to vote on the reduced target of 0.5% was in breach of the law.
The government had initially noted that it would put the new lower target to a vote, but it recently reversed this decision, arguing that given the temporary nature of the new lower target, the vote was not necessary. However, signatories of the letter cite the findings of the ex-Director of Public Prosecutions, Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, who notes that the International Development Act 2015 does not make provision to change the 0.7% target itself, only to miss it due to exceptional circumstances.