Was Boris Johnson right to merge the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)?
Lauren McEvatt, managing director of Morpeth Consulting and a former government adviser, says YES.
The merger of DFID and the FCO is overdue.
For too long the UK government has been operating too many strands of foreign policy. This is disjointed, inefficient, and fails to guarantee value for money for the taxpayer.
Aid expenditure is set at 0.7 per cent of gross national income, so with the economy in free fall, the foreign aid budget faces a steep reduction. Now is therefore the opportune time to merge the departments.
It is right too that ambassadors and high commissioners will now be able to lead their whole mission, and the clarity on our foreign policy objectives that this streamlining should bring about should assist them to do this.
No longer will there be anywhere to hide for a government that lacks clarity in what it wishes to achieve worldwide, and “global Britain” and “British values” will have to be designed to promote our modern values, and not slip into neo-colonial tropes which would damage our standing around the world.
Victoria Mackarness, senior account manager at CMS Strategic, says NO.
The Prime Minister’s decision to merge DFID into the FCO is bad policy and bad comms.
DFID is the bastion of soft power for the UK, managing to improve the lives of those most in need around the world, while cementing the UK’s reputation as a world power.
Giving a commercial objective to a department designed to help the world’s vulnerable not only damages the image of Britain across the globe but shames us as a developed nation.
The UK is in a position to provide everything from advanced medical care to teaching around the world. Rolling this into a hyper-inflated need for a trade surplus does us all disservice.
The Conservative party has spent years fighting a battle against its image as an uncaring and callous organisation.
I fear that the latest decision has not only damaged millions of vulnerable people, but the party’s reputation at home as well.