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.