The British government has said the reduction in aid spending is “compatible” with existing legal commitments and does not require a vote in Parliament.
Tory MPs opposed to the foreign aid cuts have said that they will back a legal challenge if the government refuses to hold a vote on the proposed multi-billion-pound aid cuts.
Some sources have suggested that the British government is attempting to put off a parliamentary vote on aid cuts until after the G7 summit in Cornwall in June due to “reputational concerns”.
Patten described the planned aid cuts as “very bad all round”, especially during the global pandemic.
“I think it is very bad in terms of what we can do as a country concerned about humanitarian assistance, very bad for what we can do in continuing to strengthen our reputation as a global development power and it is also particularly damaging in this moment when we should be doing more for poor countries hit by the coronavirus,” he said.
The former Hong Kong governor said that the cuts would fall disproportionately on “places where we presumably want Britain outside the European Union to have the ability to make its mark”.
“We keep on blowing the trumpet about being ‘Global Britain’. At the same time we have announced subsuming the highly regarded international development ministry into the Foreign Office and cut its budget by a huge amount. That doesn’t seem to me to be a very good way of striding [onto] the world stage,” Patten said.
Labour MP Sarah Champion said that the British government had shown a “complete lack of regard for the democratic process” in refusing to hold a vote on the aid cuts.
“The government hasn’t shown any transparency throughout the process of its cuts to aid. The debates in Parliament have been because MPs called them, not because the government granted them,” Champion, the chair of the international development committee, told openDemocracy.