Part of the problem for the government is that the fallout from the cuts coincided with the Group of 7 summit, where Britain is eager to show off its role as a leader and unifier of countries. Some of the groups hardest hit by the cuts are active in the issues Britain is highlighting in Cornwall.
Britain, for example, has contributed £ 15 million, or $ 21 million, per year to UNAIDS, the United Nations program on HIV and AIDS, over the past five years. Now he plans to reduce that figure by 80%, to £ 2.5million, or $ 3.5million, even as Mr Johnson has made the pandemic and health security a centerpiece of the meeting. at the top.
“The decision was controversial at first,” said Simon Fraser, a former senior official at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, of the broader budget cuts. “What is more controversial is the way it was implemented. The real-life consequences are only showing, and the timing is terrible for the government. “
Government officials insist they will reconsider budget cuts next year. But Fraser and others predict the Treasury will be reluctant to reverse them quickly, given the continued high spending for pandemic relief. The government continues to subsidize the wages of tens of thousands of people who have lost their jobs.
Officials point out that Britain has taken the lead in setting up initiatives like Covax, which aims to provide equal access to Covid vaccines. AstraZeneca, the Cambridge-based drugmaker that makes a vaccine developed by the University of Oxford, was the first to join Covax and provide most of its supply.
Critics hope President Biden will pressure Mr Johnson to restore UK aid spending, even though the US aid record itself is mixed. A group of Democrats in the House of Representatives, led by Representative Joaquin Castro of Texas, sent a letter to Mr Biden on Sunday, urging him to raise the issue with Mr Johnson when they meet in Cornwall on Thursday.
“It is absolutely essential that Biden look Boris in the eye and say, ‘We need you to come back,'” Mr Drummond said.