It came to light yesterday (Sunday) that Isle of Wight Conservative MP, Robert Seely, has co-authored a report that seeks to change the UK approach to funding overseas aid.
The report – co-authored with James Rogers, a founding member of the Henry Jackson Society think-tank (background)- has three forewords, one by Boris Johnson, leading to the ex-Foreign Secretary being interviewed this morning on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme about it.
Global Britain: A Blueprint for the 21st century
The report – referred to as a pamphlet by Johnson – Global Britain: A Blueprint for the 21st century, was only made public at midday today, so coverage of it and details have been limited.
The Guardian appears to have had sight of it yesterday, with their take on it being that it includes calls for :
- a multibillion-pound cut in the UK’s overseas aid budget (by widening the current definition of what ‘overseas aid’ is, to include the items below – thus making the current budget spread across new areas)
- Closure of the Department for International Development (DfID) as a separate Whitehall entity
- Enhancement of the Foreign Office’s powers
- all UK peacekeeping should be funded through overseas aid, with savings returned to the Ministry of Defence to increase the UK’s military power
- an enhanced BBC World Service with a £1bn budget should be funded entirely from aid
With the paper now public (see below), you are able to read it, to come to your own conclusions.
Mixed response from Labour
One of the report’s forewords was by Labour politician, MP Ian Austin, who recommended the report.
The Guardian piece has a response from Dan Carden, the Shadow international development secretary. He
“condemned the report, saying it proposed that the UK “turns its back on its commitment to eradicate global poverty, calls for the Department for International Development to be broken up, the aid budget to be slashed and for the UK to pull out of the OECD’s forum of major international donors that oversees global aid spending.””
Bob Seely has previously signalled some of the ideas covered in the report previously in a response to his constituents who wrote to him about the importance of International Aid.
The Henry Jackson Society and Bob Seely
The Henry Jackson Society, describe themselves as “a think-tank and policy-shaping force that fights for the principles and alliances which keep societies free.” Wikipedia’s entry for them describes them as a neo-conservative British foreign policy think-tank.
They’ve previously worked with MP Seely, when he published a paper, ‘A Definition of Contemporary Russian Conflict: How Does the Kremlin Wage War?’, through them in June 2018.
In November last year (2018), Seely also organised for a HJS event to be hosted in a Committee Room at the House of Commons, The Future of ‘Global Britain’ as a ‘Seapower State’, where one of the speakers was James Rogers (The recent report’s co-author), who was billed as Director of the ‘Global Britain’ Programme at the Henry Jackson Society.
Image: © Parliament Live TV