Catholic aid agency CAFOD has reminded the new International Development Secretary that her role is “one of the most important in government”.
It also urged the new president of the COP26 climate conference to “throw himself whole-heartedly” into making the talks a success.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, was appointed to the position of Secretary of State for International Development, replacing Alok Sharma, as part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Cabinet reshuffle last week, which also saw Sajid Javid quit as chancellor and the surprise sacking of Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith.
Responding to the reshuffle, Christine Allen, director of CAFOD, urged Ms Trevelyan to focus the aid budget on eradicating poverty.
She also recommended that the new International Development Secretary put an immediate end to support for fossil fuels overseas from the aid budget.
“The post of International Development Secretary is one of the most important in government, giving the minister the opportunity to help millions of people worldwide to pull themselves out of poverty,” Ms Allen told The Catholic Universe.
“The UK aid budget must be focused on eradicating poverty and not as a way of furthering British interests in trade negotiations.
“It also means that Anne-Marie Trevelyan must focus on the root causes of poverty, not least the damage inequality and the climate crisis is causing in the world’s most vulnerable communities.
“The most immediate way the minister can do this is by putting an immediate end to support for fossil fuels overseas from the aid budget – especially given the damage this is doing to the government’s leadership credentials ahead of COP26.”
Ms Trevelyan’s appointment came as Mr Sharma left the position, becoming Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and president of COP26 talks, which are due to take place in Glasgow in November.
Commenting on Mr Sharma’s role in the crucial UN climate summit Ms Allen warned him that “there is no time to waste” in preparing for it.
“Our new COP president needs to throw himself whole-heartedly into making this year’s talks a success,” she said. “We’re behind where we need to be in mobilising all the diplomatic levers and channels we have to get countries to show ambition ahead of the COP, so there is no time to waste.
“We urge the new president to work closely with our EU neighbours in order to encourage China and other countries to show the ambition we need to bring emissions down urgently.
“The voices of the most vulnerable countries will be crucial in holding both our feet, and those of others, to the fire and ensure ambition matches the scale of the crisis we face.”
The biggest shock of last week’s Cabinet reshuffle saw Mr Javid quit as chancellor after Mr Johnson ordered himto fire his closest aides and replace them with advisers chosen by Number 10 if he wanted to remain in post – conditions Mr Javid said “any self-respecting minister” would reject” and that he was “unable to accept”. He was replaced by his former deputy at the Treasury, Rishi Sunak.
Elsewhere, Northern Ireland was bewildered at the sacking of Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith. The move came after the former chief whip’s success in delivering a power-sharing deal in the fragile region, which saw the Northern Ireland Assembly restored after three years of deadlock.
Mr Smith was replaced as Northern Ireland Secretary by Brandon Lewis.
Allies of Mr Smith told the PA news agency they were shocked at the decision to dismiss him from the Cabinet and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar hailed Mr Smith as “one of Britain’s finest politicians of our time”.
Picture: Left: International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan arriving at 10 Downing Street, London, for the first Cabinet meeting since the reshuffle. Right: Alok Sharma leaving Downing Street, London. (Stefan Rousseau/PA).