It is impossible to interpret the demise of DFID as anything other than a downgrading in international development as a priority of the Tory Government.

That development has been downgraded at all is a matter of deep concern and regret. That DFID is to disappear into the Foreign Office is misguided. That is has all been done in the name of a ‘Global Britain’ is outright farce. This degradation of the UK’s presence in the world and our capacity to be a force for good is wrong and entirely self-inflicted.

Shaped by Co-operative MPs and manifestos, DFID has come a long way since its creation under the last Labour government. Today DIFD is widely regarded as one of the best overseas development agencies in the world, delivering one of the biggest aid budgets in the world. A major player with global reach, DFID has helped over 11 and a half million children gain a decent education, immunised over 37 million children against diseases in the poorest countries and reached more than 26 million people worldwide with humanitarian aid in the past three years alone. Much of that work is co-ordinated, not from Whitehall, but from the former Oversees Development Agency offices in East Kilbride, where today almost half of the UK-based DFID workforce is located.

They are part of our community in East Kilbride. They supported our bid to become Scotland’s largest Fairtrade Town and they contribute millions to our local economy. Decisions taken about the future of their workforce could have serious consequences for our town. That is why the lack of any meaningful consultation with the workforce on this merger is so disconcerting. Workers are in the dark about what a merger with the Foreign Office, potentially as soon as September, will mean for them in practice. The wider community is in the dark about what this will mean for our economy, already struggling with the impact of Covid and the erosion of the manufacturing base and service sectors on which so much of the New Town was built.

If the government will not commit to retaining DFID as a world-leading aid agency, they should at least commit to retaining the jobs of the civil servants in East Kilbride, London and around the world who made it such an international success.

The creation of DFID is one of the great achievements of the last Labour and Co-operative led government. So too is its endurance. The department survived numerous Tory reshuffle and came to symbolise how the political centre ground on aid spending had shifted. Boris Johnson and this generation of Tories want to shift it back. We cannot let them roll back action to tackle global inequality and the deprioritise the life-changing work of DFID around the world.