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Expert comment on decision to merge FCO and DFID

The Prime Minister has announced his Government's intention to merge the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development.

Professor Shirin Rai, Director, Warwick Interdisciplinary Research Centre for International Development, comments:-

"The fact that Boris Johnson’s administration has announced it will be merging the Foreign Office (FCO) with the Department for International Development (DfID) is not a surprise. It has been on the cards for a while. Johnson has previously said overseas aid needs to be spent “more in line with Britain’s political, commercial and diplomatic interests” and that Britain cannot keep operating as if it were a “Scandinavian NGO”.

"But it does signify yet another regressive step in the current British administration’s attitude to international relations and aid and its intent to restructure the British civil service. Alignment of trading and security interests, as articulated by the FCO seem to be taking centre stage, as DfID gets side-lined.

"How this merger affects the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) - a £1.5 billion pot that comes out of UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment – is yet to be seen. Any reduction in support for British universities’ work on international development will have serious consequences for future development of research, analysis and policy reform."

17 June 2020

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