Walking away from international responsibilities, “fundamentally wrong and morally repugnant”
Yesterday the Tories finally abandoned any pretence of a moral responsibility to the world’s poor by agreeing to cut £5 billion from the UK’s Foreign Aid budget.
This is an utterly shameful decision and will literally lead to many of the world’s poorest people being plunged further into poverty, slavery and destitution as well as leading to the further destabilisation of many parts of the developing world.
As I said in my speech these £5 billion cuts are fundamentally wrong and morally repugnant.
Boris Johnson has brought shame on the UK by pressing ahead with these devastating cuts to international aid in the middle of a global pandemic. Not only has he broken his own manifesto commitment, and the UK’s moral responsibilities – but he has taken a course of action that will inevitably lead to more deaths and misery among the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people and prevent so many NGOs and charities from doing the vital, live-saving work they have been carrying out.
I am grateful to all constituents across Argyll & Bute who have been in touch asking me to oppose this plan and glad that it is clear Scotland rejects these utterly shameful cuts.
While the Tories are slashing aid at Westminster, the SNP government has increased our international development spending by 50%.
Douglas Ross should explain why his Scottish Tory MPs have sided with Boris Johnson and voted against Scotland’s wishes, yet again.
Scotland’s values are increasingly under attack at Westminster. It’s clear that the only way to build a strong, fair and equal recovery, and play our full part in the world, is for Scotland to become an independent country.
You can read my full speech below and listen to it here:
“May I begin by saying how pleased I am that the Government have finally bowed to pressure and that we in this House are having the vote that we were promised on cutting money to the world’s poorest people? It is absolutely right that we have that vote because every Member of this House must declare his or her position. I fear that, without a meaningful vote, Members on the Government Benches could continue to hide behind crocodile tears or meaningless words of regret, without ever having to display the courage of their convictions and stand up and tell this Government that the decision to take £5 billion away from the world’s poorest people is fundamentally wrong and morally repugnant.
“At the end of this debate, we will all have to declare where we stand, and no one can continue in the hope that, by choosing to stay silent, he or she will not be asked to come off the fence. Although this vote has been a long time coming, it does mean that we are all in this House well rehearsed in the arguments. Absolutely no one can pretend that he or she does not know what they are voting for this evening, or that they do not understand the consequences of their actions when they vote. They now know that, if they support the motion, that money is not coming back.
“I find it utterly incomprehensible that the Government of one of the richest countries in the world appear hellbent on making the poorest people on this planet even poorer and more susceptible and vulnerable to disease, hunger and the lack of clean water. For them to push this as vigorously as they have, despite every single analysis telling them and us that millions of people will die, simply beggars belief. It is shameful that, if the motion is agreed tonight, it will mark a new low point for a country that pretends or boasts about being a beacon for tolerance, decency and humanity. This is the test of that vote.
“As I have said before, this country has a moral obligation to help those in what we now call the developing world, not least because this country is in no small way responsible for the situation in which they now find themselves. The UK — Great Britain —grew rich and powerful on the backs of the world’s poor. We invaded, conquered, divided and plundered, leaving behind an impoverished wasteland. It is about time that this country woke up to its moral responsibility to assist those we abandoned to live with the consequences of British imperialism. We should not be running away from that responsibility. Those on the Government Benches have to accept that that is the consequence of their action tonight.”