Prime minister Boris Johnson gave the left both barrels today as he smashed into the SNP’s Westminster leader over the extremely popular cut to international aid and backed education secretary Gavin Williamson’s condemnation of an Oxford College’s decision to tear down a portrait of the Queen.
Liberal MPs, including a sizeable number of Tories are desperate for the government to reverse its trimming of Britain’s fabulously generous foreign aid commitment from 0.7% to 0.5% of national product.
On Monday, rebel Tory backbenchers saw their hopes of reinstating the higher target dashed because they had foolishly pinned their wrecking amendment to an unrelated debate in the house. The speaker duly threw it out.
Undeterred, the SNP’s leader in the House of Commons, Ian Blackford demanded to know at PMQs today, “yes or no”, would Johnson be granting a vote on the “inhumane cuts”.
“We’re in very, very difficult financial times, but you shouldn’t believe the leftie propaganda you hear from people opposite,” Johnson replied.
“We’re spending £10 billion overseas. All they want to do is run this country down when we’ve increased spending on girls’ education alone to almost half a billion pounds.”
The same afternoon, Boris sent his spokesperson out to support Williamson, who had been hit with a predictable backlash for scorning the removal of the Queen’s portrait as “simply absurd”.
“She is the Head of State and a symbol of what is best about the UK,” said the education secretary.
“During her long reign she has worked tirelessly to promote British values of tolerance, inclusivity and respect around the world.”
Earlier this week, postgraduate students at Magdalen College Oxford voted in favour of removing the portrait from one of the common rooms because the beloved monarch “represents recent colonial history”. The motion was tabled by an American computer science student doing a PhD in complexity theory. The vote passed by a large majority.
Oxford graduate Johnson wasn’t having it and backed his man. “You have had the education secretary’s words, which the PM supports,” his spokesperson said.