Boris Johnson’s New-Model Colonial Policy
By subsuming the UK's renowned international-development agency under the country's diplomatic apparatus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson claims to be looking out for the British taxpayer. In fact, he is striking a severe blow to Britain's own soft power, economic prospects, and moral standing in the world.
ADDIS ABABA – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to merge the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID) with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is a deliberate slap in the face to developing countries. Worse, it comes just when African countries are crying out for international support to fight COVID-19 and its economic fallout.
Johnson has made clear that his post-Brexit vision of a “swashbuckling” UK leaves scant room for commitments to Africa or the wider developing world. DfID’s absorption into the bowels of the country’s diplomatic apparatus represents a reversal of the United Kingdom’s landmark 1997policy shift vis-à-vis Africa, “Eliminating World Poverty – A Challenge for the 21st Century.” By putting the agency directly under the control of the foreign ministry, Johnson is signaling that international development will play second fiddle to foreign policy and security concerns.
It’s an odd decision, considering that an economically prosperous Africa, with its young and growing population, is precisely the kind of trade partner that Johnson needs to make his idea of a “Global Britain” anything other than a fantasy. Instead of recognizing Africa’s potential, he seems to see abandoning the continent as a means of cutting costs and paying lip service to national security. In a recent statement, Johnson argued that: