UK Overseas Territories Minister resigns
Britain’s Overseas Territories minister has resigned after the Conservative Party government yesterday announced it was cutting its foreign aid budget.
Baroness Sugg, who was appointed Foreign Office Parliamentary Secretary for Overseas Territories and Sustainable Development in February, resigned yesterday in protest against the cut from 0.7 per cent of gross national income to 0.5 per cent.
Her resignation letter said: “Many in our country face severe challenges as a result of the pandemic and I know the government must make very difficult choices in response. But I believe it is fundamentally wrong to abandon our commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on development.
“This promise should be kept in the tough times as well as the good. Given the link between our development spend and the health of our economy, the economic downturn has already led to significant cuts this year and I do not believe we should reduce our support further at a time of unprecedented global crises.”
Baroness Sugg was critical in approving the British Airways “air bridge” flights which enabled Bermuda students stranded in the UK during March and April’s Covid-19 crisis to fly home.
The resignation comes at a time when the 15 British OTs, including Bermuda, have been asked to prepare proposals for modernising their constitutional arrangements with the UK, a move that the Bermuda Government highlighted in its recent Throne Speech.
The Guardian newspaper said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak came under pressure yesterday from other MPs over the cut, including Andrew Mitchell who said the aid cuts “will be the cause of 100,000 preventable deaths, mainly among children. This is a choice I for one am not prepared to make. None of us will be able to look our children in the eye and claim we did not know what we were voting for.”
The former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “To cut our aid budget by a third in a year when millions more will fall into extreme poverty will make not just them poorer but us poorer in the eyes of the world.”