BRUSSELS, Belgium — On October 25, 2022, the new U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appointed Andrew Mitchell as Development Minister. This nomination comes 10 years after Andrew Mitchell resigned from his position as Secretary of State for International Development.
One year ago, Andrew Mitchell led the Conservative opposition towards the budget cuts on U.K. development aid which Sunak, who was the Chancellor at that time and Boris Johnson proposed at the time. Mitchell strongly advocated maintaining the law which states that the U.K. has to allocate 0.7% of its gross national income to foreign aid.
Andrew Mitchell has also shown his strong disagreement regarding the decision of Sunak and the rest of the Conservative government to close the U.K. Department for International Development in 2020, as he considered it necessary and an important tool to implement the U.K.’s policy on development aid.
How Mitchell May Improve the U.K. Development Aid
As Development Minister in the government of Rishi Sunak and in the light of his strong opposition regarding the positions of Rishi Sunak on the budget of U.K.’s development aid, one may wonder if Mitchell can change the U.K. Development Aid and if he would be able to have its own impact rather than following the views of Sunak.
Nevertheless, one may have a look at Andrew Mitchell’s position on U.K. aid when he was Secretary of State for International Development in the early 2010s. In 2010 for instance, he conducted a reform of U.K. aid. He supported reforms to increase the popularity of U.K. aid programs in the British population, which is why he has strongly advocated for better transparency regarding the funds of the U.K. aid and its different programs in order to gain the trust of the British taxpayers through a better understanding of U.K. aid. Furthermore, he has underlined the importance to fight against corruption in the recipient countries of U.K. aid, following its line of implementing “noble development aims” for U.K. aid.
Through his position as Secretary of State for International Development, Mitchell has also aimed at establishing a better structure to control the spending of U.K. aid, and thus increase its efficiency. To reach this objective, in 2011 he created the Independent Commission for Aid Impact. This public agency is independent of the government and looks at U.K. aid spending in order to enable appropriate and efficient spending of U.K. aid.
In line with the positions he has always defended, Andrew Mitchell could change U.K. Development Aid as the new U.K. Development Minister. First of all, he has decided to implement several measures in November 2022. Indeed, he has stated his first priority is to resume spending on U.K. Official Development Assistance, which had been stopped by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. Such a decision would not only increase the amount of money dedicated to U.K. aid but as a consequence would also improve the efficiency of the aid itself.
Moreover, many people from the Conservative Party as well as from the opposition are hoping for the return of the rule of 0.7% of the U.K. gross national income that has to be allocated to foreign aid; one year after Mitchell lost the vote which allowed the removal of this rule.
To put it in a nutshell, Andrew Mitchell has been appointed U.K. Development Minister by Rishi Sunak with whom he had a lot of opposition regarding the budget and the nature of U.K. development aid. The independence or not of Mitchell from his Prime Minister’s views regarding U.K. aid will be very interesting to observe in the months to come.
– Evan Da Costa Marques