Giving the DFID – the Department for International Development – its independence was a major step forward by the Labour government in 1997.
It ensured that aid was used for what it was designed for: aiding the poor around the world and not to subsidise British foreign policy aims.
But this is apparently just what Boris Johnson is planning. As the Sun newspaper has put it:
Boris Johnson plots power grab of £13billion foreign aid as PM Theresa May ducks out of showdown
Will this happen? Unlikely, since Boris Johnson is unpopular with his fellow Members of Parliament, but he is increasingly popular among the grassroots Tories.
Boris Johnson in fresh challenge to Theresa May over Whitehall shake-up
Written by: Emilio Casalicchio
2nd October 2017
Boris Johnson has suggested his Foreign Office should merge with the Department for International Aid in a fresh challenge to Theresa May’s leadership.
The Foreign Secretary said New Labour had made a “colossal mistake” to hive off DfID from his department in the 1990s.
And he revealed he and International Development Secretary Priti Patel were “basically” trying to bring the two back together.
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Mr Johnson’s comments will be seen as a fresh power grab – since the organisation of government departments is not in his gift.
He told the Sun: “It was a colossal mistake in the 1990s to divide DFID from the Foreign Office.”
He explained: “If we are going to be in this great global campaigner for free trade, then we have got to maximise the value of overseas engagements.”
And he added: “Priti and I are now working much more closely with our departments.
“We now have double-hatted ministers, and are basically trying to bring the Foreign Office and DFID back together.”