Cabinet ministers have been calling Conservative backbenchers in their droves, in a last-ditch bid to avoid an embarrassing rebellion today.
Several Tory MPs including former prime minister Theresa May have backed a technical amendment against his administration’s decision to renege on its manifesto pledge on foreign aid.
One rebel told the Daily Telegraph he had received “several calls from Cabinet” ministers, adding: “The Government is very nervy.”
Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, is thought to have been among those to make a personal plea this weekend.
David Davis, another of the rebels, told Radio 4’s Today programme, it was a “morally poor position for the Government”, saying the cut would “have devastating consequences around the world” and “kill people”.
Solicitor General Lucy Frazer told Sky News: “We absolutely think [aid is] important but we have to consider the circumstances we are in. It is really important we spend money at home at this time of the pandemic.”
Of the ring-round, she said it was “normal for ministers to take the temperature of backbenchers”.
Follow the latest updates below.
‘Dying isn’t the sole issue’, says former chief scientific adviser
One in 25 new Covid cases are emerging among people who have had both doses of the vaccine, a former chief scientific adviser has said.
Sir David King, chair of the Independent Sage group, told Sky News “we know that anyone vaccinated twice is relatively safe against the virus.
“But let’s not forget the one in 25 new cases are people who have been vaccinated twice – that means 400 new cases a day are people who had the vaccine twice.
“While there is an extensive amount of virus out there in the country, amongst our people, it is dangerous.”
He continued: “Dying isn’t the sole issue about that we’re trying to avoid here. The number of people who are suffering from long Covid in the country is enormous and this is not a simply a flu, once you’ve had the vaccine.”
‘Evidence of another wave’, says former chief scientific adviser
A former chief scientific adviser to the Government has warned that there is “evidence of another wave appearing”.
Sir David King, who chairs the Independent Sage group, told Sky News: “(There are) 5,300 new cases of the disease per day in the United Kingdom and we’re up about 2,000 on last week.
“Now we’ve been discussing whether or not we’re going into a serious third wave and I don’t think we can possibly wait any longer.
“This is the evidence of another wave appearing.”
Solicitor general defends ‘temporary’ cut to overseas aid
Solicitor General Lucy Frazer has defended the decision to cut overseas aid from 0.7 per cent of GDP to 0.5 per cent.
She told Sky News the cuts to foreign aid will be temporary, as the Government continues its efforts to dampen a Tory rebellion to force spending levels to be maintained.
She told Sky News: “Even without the 0.7 per cent this year we will be investing £10 billion and that is really important, but we are in the middle of a pandemic.
“What we’ve said is of course international aid needs to be spent but we’re going to temporarily cease the 0.7 per cent and bring it back when fiscal circumstances allow.”
Post-Brexit trade with Northern Ireland ‘more difficult than we anticipated’, says minister
Post-Brexit trade issues between Great Britain and Northern Ireland have been “more difficult than we anticipated”, a minister has admitted today.
Solicitor General Lucy Frazer told Sky News: “It is very difficult on the ground in terms of trade.
“It is really important that we sort it and Lord Frost is doing just that.
“As it has panned out, on the ground it is more difficult than we anticipated and we do need to sort out that trade arrangement.”
‘Harmful’ overseas aid cut will kill people, says former minister
The Government is doing a “harmful” and “devastating” thing in cutting aid spending which could see people die, former Brexit secretary David Davis has said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been criticised across the political spectrum for temporarily reducing foreign aid from 0.7% of national income to 0.5%, breaking a manifesto commitment.
There will be massive cuts in clean water which kills children worldwide and in funding for food for starving people, where “again thousands will die”, Mr Davis told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
He said: “No other G7 country is cutting its aid in this way. It is going to have devastating consequences across the world. Historically, I am a critic of aid spending but doing it this way is really so harmful.”
He said that Germany, France and the US are leaders in spending in this area, adding “so we are not such a leader any more – in fact we are throwing away enormous influence, particularly in Africa, where there is an ideological battle with China”.
Mr Davis told the programme: “Morally, this is a devastating thing for us to have done.”
Oversea aid cut ‘will come back to haunt us’, says Gordon Brown
Former prime minister Gordon Brown has said the cut to overseas aid “makes absolutely no economic sense, but particularly no moral sense, and it’s in our self interest… we are going to suffer ourselves.”
He told BBC Breakfast: “It will come back to haunt us, It’s not just an act of compassion, it’s also an act of self interest.”
Biden emphasises ‘special relationship’ in olive branch to UK
Joe Biden wants to strengthen the special relationship with Britain ahead of his arrival in London this week.
The US president, who will meet the Queen and attend the G7 summit in Cornwall, said he would use his upcoming meeting with Boris Johnson to “affirm the special relationship” and endorsed the Prime Minister’s G7 goals of tackling climate change and strengthening ties between democracies.
The reference to the special relationship, an idea that commands much less attention in the US, will be read in London as a gesture of goodwill following sometimes terse exchanges between the Johnson and Biden Governments over Brexit and Northern Ireland.