Boris Johnson has narrowly avoided a rebellion by some of his own Conservative MPs over cuts to the foreign aid budget, Sky News understands.
Thirty Tories, including former prime minister Theresa May and four other cabinet ministers, were backing a rebellion against the £4bn reduction and had hoped to force a vote on the matter.
But a Labour source has told Sky News that it is “all but certain” that House of Commons clerks have ruled that the amendment, which was proposed to the Advanced Research and Innovation Agency Bill, is not in scope.
Under parliamentary procedure, Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle gets to decide whether to select amendments and allow votes on them based on the advice of his clerks.
The proposed amendment intended to make the government commit to reinstating the 0.7% target from next year – from the funding for this new “high-risk” science agency which he obscure legislation would create – if it is not met through alternative means.
MPs told Sky News that Chancellor Rishi Sunak had been phoning colleagues on Sunday trying to convince them not to vote for the amendment.
Britain’s aid spending was cut by the chancellor last November in what was intended to be a temporary move, but without a vote in parliament. Mr Sunak told MPs at the time that keeping it at the higher level “cannot be justified to the British people”.
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