It was “morally indefensible” for Scottish Conservative MPs, including leader Douglas Ross, to vote to cut international aid, the Scottish Greens have claimed.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson saw off a rebellion of 24 Tories – including his predecessor Theresa May – in a vote on reducing spending on foreign aid from 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) to 0.5%.
None of Scotland’s Tory MPs were among those to oppose the plan, which will see a reduction of £4.4 billion in annual aid spending for an indefinite period – though Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said the cut will be reversed when public finances improve.
Mr Ross and his MPs have been attacked for the vote, with Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie saying he “pitifully fell in line” with the Prime Minister.
The Green MSP said: “Douglas Ross’s actions are morally indefensible. This is someone who says he wants to give leadership to the country, but when push comes to shove he pitifully fell in line with Boris Johnson to vote for these vicious cuts, as did his sad little band of Scottish Tory MPs.
“These Tory cuts to international aid will be devastating. But instead of taking a stand Mr Ross filed into the lobby behind the Prime Minister and joined him in attacking the most vulnerable people in the world, at a time when they are most in need of support.
“The UK is one of the world’s wealthiest countries. It should be supporting those most in need so that we are better able to deal, as a global community, with challenges like Covid and the climate crisis.
“Instead its Government has chosen to shamefully abandon those most in need.”
Scottish External Affairs Secretary Angus Robertson said after the vote: “I am greatly disappointed – the Scottish Government continues to believe that the cutting of the overseas aid budget is a deplorable decision that is already hitting the world’s poorest and most marginal communities at a time of great need.
“As the global pandemic continues, the UK Government should not be turning its back on the poorest. Rather this is precisely the moment when we should be living up to our core values.”
Mr Ross’s former de facto deputy Ruth Davidson, who now sits in the House of Lords after leaving Holyrood at this year’s election, took to Twitter to say the Tory rebellion in the Commons was “not big enough”.
She added: “For colleagues’ who stood on manifesto after manifesto committed to this, it’s a bloody disgrace.”
Mr Sunak said: “Whilst not every member felt able to vote for the Government’s compromise, the substantive matter of whether we remain committed to the 0.7% target – not just now but for decades to come – is clearly a point of significant unity in this House.
“Today’s vote has made that commitment more secure for the long-term whilst helping the Government to fix the problems with our public finances and continue to deliver for our constituents today.”
A Scottish Conservative spokesman said: “The UK Government is one of the most generous aid donors in the G7, and will be spending more than £10 billion in 2021 on climate change and biodiversity, global health security, responding to humanitarian crises, girls’ education, science and technology, resolving conflicts and promoting trade.”