Boris Johnson faces a Commons defeat on aid cuts as he prepares to meet world leaders at the G7 summit (Image: Getty Images)
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Boris Johnson faces a humiliating revolt tonight with dozens of Tory MPs set to rebel over cutting foreign aid.
A parliamentary vote on holding the Prime Minister to a manifesto pledge to spend 0.7% of gross national income on international development could be staged on Monday evening.
Tory backbenchers, including former PM Theresa May, hope the Speaker will select an amendment to the Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill – paving the way for a crunch vote.
The 0.7% commitment was enshrined in law in 2015.
But the Government ditched the pledge last autumn and announced it would temporarily pump 0.5% into the budget instead as the financial scale of the coronavirus crisis became clear.
Rock star and anti-poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof claimed cutting the cash was “cruel” – and could backfire as the UK prepares to host G7 leaders this weekend.
The Government is under pressure to reverse cruel cuts to aid for the world's poorest
“I'm very much afraid that something that we're told is temporary will become permanent,” he told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show.
“That would be vastly damaging for Britain's soft power, for its reputation, particularly at a weekend when we invite the world's most powerful leaders of the world's biggest economies to come here and talk about such matters with us.
“It seems remarkably maladroit and inept."
He warned Mr Johnson: “You are going to meet your peers at the weekend.
“This is one we lead on already – seriously lead on, we led the charge, we committed to it.
“The entire country through their MPs promised it. Go in there with our head held high.”
Boris Johnson's shameful aid budget cuts will leave millions to starve
Rebel Tory MP Tom Tugendhat said he was “cautiously optimistic” there were enough backbenchers to overturn the Government's 85-strong majority.
He told Sky News: “We're trying to make sure that Britain's foreign footprint, that 'global Britain', really means something. “I think that's absolutely vital to making sure we achieve our ambitions and our potential.
“The reality is Britain has a huge opportunity to shape the world at the moment of extraordinary flux and this, along with our defence and diplomatic and trade capabilities, is part of that.”
United Nations under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs, Sir Mark Lowcock, told Times Radio the aid cut was a "failure of kindness and empathy."
Charity campaigner Bob Geldof branded aid cuts 'cruel'
He added: “It's a breach of a promise. But it also, I think, is an act of self harm.”
However, former Cabinet Minister Esther McVey, who leads the Blue Collar Conservatism campaign group, wrote in The Sunday Telegraph: "It should be crystal clear that we simply don't have the same money now as we had a few years ago for foreign aid.
“If we stubbornly insist on sticking to David Cameron's target of spending 0.7% of GDP – dreamt up in a very different economic and political era – we will end up going into deeper debt in order to finance other countries, and paying interest on that borrowed money."
Cabinet Minister Matt Hancock insisted it was “absolutely reasonable to take the decision that the Government has”.