Boris Johnson announced the move as part of the “biggest review of Foreign Aid” since the end of the Cold War. The Prime Minister insisted the merger of the two Government departments will allow the Foreign Secretary to wield more power on how to manage the distribution of Foreign Aid. Addressing the Commons, Mr Johnson said: “If there is one further lesson is that a whole-Government approach, getting maximum value for the British taxpayer, is just as important abroad as it is at home.
“This is exactly the moment when we must mobilise every one of our national assets, including our aid budget and expertise to safeguard British interests and values overseas.
“The best opportunity to do that will be a new department charged with using all the tools of British influence to seize the opportunities ahead.”
The announcement comes after crossbench peer Lord Bew conducted a review into UK aid spending to revise the current £14 million aid budget as part of changes to the way Britain interacts with international partners.
The new Government department is expected to take on the name of Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office after Mr Johnson told the Commons the DFID spends four times the FCO “yet no single decision-maker in either department is able to unite our efforts or take a comprehensive overview.”
Boris Johnson insisted he wants to get the
Boris Johnson argued the new department will allow the UK to better protect its interests abroad
Mr Johnson insisted the new department will bring together the FCO with British Ambassadors across the world to best represent the interests of the UK and its taxpayers thanks to the expertise members of the DFID developed since 1997.
He also said the UK was merely following in the footsteps of other nations such as Canada and Australia to best exploit the assets the British Government has abroad.
The UK has spent 0.7 percent of its Gross National Income on foreign aid since 2013, according to a report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
The Department for International Development appeared to be the main spender of UK aid, with the FCO following behind.
The Brexit trade talks are expected to conclude by December 2020
In his speech, Mr Johnson remarked about the importance of “international cooperation” in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis as he insisted the UK should be able to put its money to its best use.
The Prime Minister’s speech comes after a virtual meeting with Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel on Monday.
After a review of the ongoing Brexit trade negotiations, Mr Johnson and the top echelons of the European Union agreed talks require a “new momentum” before a deal can be agreed.
Negotiations have been at a deadlock because of a number of contentious issues, prominently the future access to British fisheries and EU demands for a level-playing field on regulations.
The Times reported on Tuesday Brussels is ready to acknowledge that European vessels do not have automatic access to the rich British waters, with Mr Barnier believed to have accepted Britain’s position.
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Brexit has been seen as an opportunity to regain control of waters from the EU
And President von der Leyen is also believed to have recognised the UK will be an independent coastal state at the end of the transition period, meaning London will be in control of regulating access.
The UK has long maintained the withdrawal from the EU would allow British coastal communities to take back control of their fishing stocks.
But London also signalled a willingness to consider granting access to its closest commercial partners based on talks over shared quotas.
A UK Government spokesman said: “During the fourth round of negotiations we continued to make our views on fishing clear.
“At the end of the year, we will be an independent coastal state and any agreement we reach with the EU must reflect that.
“We remain willing to work hard to reach a separate fisheries framework agreement with the EU as envisaged by the Political Declaration.
“The EU has maintained its position which seeks to tie a fisheries framework agreement to the wider FTA and maintain the status quo on access provisions and quota sharing. This is incompatible with our future status as an independent coastal state.
“We cannot agree arrangements that are manifestly unbalanced and against the interests of the UK fishing industry.”