In a major announcement, Mr Johnson revealed the department would now be merged with the Foreign Office by September. Announcing the move in his Global Britain speech in the Commons this afternoon, Ms Trevelyan – who has held the position since February this year – appeared to look distraught as her department was scrapped. She has now effectively lost her position as a Cabinet Minister.
By merging the two departments into a Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Mr Johnson claimed it would help promote British interests without cutting back on overseas projects.
He also claimed the new merger would not stop the UK from committing to spend 0.7 of economic output on overseas aid.
While Ms Trevelyan stated the decision would not change the new department’s goals, she had, in fact, told a Commons International Development Committee a few months ago that the UK was served well by having the two separate departments.
Ms Trevelyan told the committee the UK was “well served by having both a Foreign Secretary and a Dfid Secretary” and she “would take some persuading” to endorse the merger of the departments.
Boris Johnson: Dfid minister in shock as department scrapped
UK news: Boris Johnson made the announcement today
However, following the announcement today, Ms Trevelyan released a statement saying the steps announced by the Prime Minister would not hinder the UK interests abroad.
She said: “We are, and have always been, a bold and confident nation, unafraid to stand up for what we believe in.
“I see our development leadership as squarely in that great tradition.
“We remain committed to our 0.7 GNI target, and we remain committed to development.
Uk news: Dfid will be merged with the Foreign Office
“The steps announced by the Prime Minister today embody that global outlook, and with the third largest diplomatic network and third biggest aid budget, sets a course to make our voice heard in the world.”
Although Mr Johnson stated the decision will not hinder the UK’s presence abroad, some have accused the Prime Minister of trying to detract from the current coronavirus pandemic.
Sir Keir Starmer said: “This statement is intended to deflect attention from all of that.
“The Prime Minister should stop these distractions and get on with the job of tackling the health and economic crisis we currently face
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Uk news: Ms Trevelyan took the position in february
UK news: Mr Johnson stated the UK will continue to meet its contribution
“I want to see Britain as a moral force for good in the world, a force for global justice and co-operation, leading the world on global security, leading the global search for a vaccine, leading the fight against poverty, climate change and gender inequality.
“We don’t achieve that by abolishing one of the best performing and important departments.”
The decision has also come under huge criticism from former International Development Secretaries.
Rory Stewart, who served as both an International Development and Foreign Secretary, stated he would be arguing strongly against the decision.
He said: “I don’t think it is the smart option.
“There are many other things we need to be concentrating on at the moment.
“It will lead to a lot of disruption, a lot of uncertainty at a time when the Foreign Office has an enormous amount to be focused on.”
UK news: The Department will be closed by September
Former Prime Minister, David Cameron also hit out at the abolishing of the department.
He said: “More could and should be done to co-ordinate aid and foreign policy, including through the National Security Council, but the end of DFID will mean less expertise, less voice for development at the top table and ultimately less respect for the UK overseas.”