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.
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.
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“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.”