What to make of the foreign aid debate? Last night, a group of Conservative MPs tried – and failed – to rebel against the government’s decision to cut the overseas aid budget by £4bn. Their plan was to put an amendment to the Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill, which would have returned spending from 0.5 per cent back to 0.7 per cent of national income next year.
Sadly for them, Commons speaker Lindsay Hoyle ruled that the amendment was not within the remit of the law they wanted to change, and instead granted them an emergency debate this afternoon.
This debate will not lead to a binding vote, which means that the issue may be going away for now. Still, the row was revealing for several reasons. Firstly, it was a dispute about the role a post-Brexit Britain should play in the world, and it had nothing to do with trade. For the past few years, foreign policy has rarely been in the headlines; instead, the nation has been treated to countless stories about a grinning Liz Truss announcing a new deal with Liechtenstein, Grenada or similar.