Does Justine Greening want to cut aid spending?

The new International Development Secretary reportedly opposes the decision to ring-fence spending.

Does the new International Development Secretary, Justine Greening, believe her department's budget should be cut? That's the suggestion from the Times's Sam Coates, who reports today (£) that Greening opposed the decision to ring-fence aid spending (or rather, to increase it by 35%) and, partly for that reason, didn't want the job. Shadow international development secretary Ivan Lewis told me that he wrote to Greening last night "asking for urgent clarification on this." He added that Cameron's decision to appoint her "raises questions about his commitment" (to the 0.7% target).

But could all this be another one of George Osborne's cunning plans? As I wrote yesterday, a higher-than-expected deficit could prompt the Chancellor to cut aid spending in later years in order to meet his fiscal rules. The decision to install Greening in place of Andrew Mitchell, a passionate supporter of the 0.7% pledge, removes at least one obstacle to doing so.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening arrives in Downing Street earlier this week for the first cabinet meeting since the reshuffle. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Lord Sainsbury pulls funding from Progress and other political causes

The longstanding Labour donor will no longer fund party political causes. 

Centrist Labour MPs face a funding gap for their ideas after the longstanding Labour donor Lord Sainsbury announced he will stop financing party political causes.

Sainsbury, who served as a New Labour minister and also donated to the Liberal Democrats, is instead concentrating on charitable causes. 

Lord Sainsbury funded the centrist organisation Progress, dubbed the “original Blairite pressure group”, which was founded in mid Nineties and provided the intellectual underpinnings of New Labour.

The former supermarket boss is understood to still fund Policy Network, an international thinktank headed by New Labour veteran Peter Mandelson.

He has also funded the Remain campaign group Britain Stronger in Europe. The latter reinvented itself as Open Britain after the Leave vote, and has campaigned for a softer Brexit. Its supporters include former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Labour's Chuka Umunna, and it now relies on grassroots funding.

Sainsbury said he wished to “hand the baton on to a new generation of donors” who supported progressive politics. 

Progress director Richard Angell said: “Progress is extremely grateful to Lord Sainsbury for the funding he has provided for over two decades. We always knew it would not last forever.”

The organisation has raised a third of its funding target from other donors, but is now appealing for financial support from Labour supporters. Its aims include “stopping a hard-left take over” of the Labour party and “renewing the ideas of the centre-left”. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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