THE PRIME Minister has announced a plan to create a "global Britain" by merging two government departments.

In a speech this afternoon, Boris Johnson announced plans to scrap the Department for International Development (DFID), and merge it with the Foreign Office.

It means DFID's £14bn will now be in the hands of Dominic Raab, who will head up the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

Concerns have been raised over the future of the DFID site in East Kilbride, which currently employs around 600 people in the area, however the government said there would be no compulsory redundancies.

A spokesman for No.10 confirmed the office in East Kilbride would remain, with employees from across the new department based there.

The Prime Minister told MPs the merger followed the "biggest review of our foreign, defence and development policy since the end of the Cold War"and is "designed to maximise our influence and integrate all the strands of our international effort."

He added: "The overriding aim is to bring this country’s strengths and expertise to bear on the world’s biggest problems, seizing the opportunities of Britain’s presidency of the G7 next year and the UN climate change conference, COP26, which we will host in Glasgow.

“The UK possesses the third biggest aid budget and diplomatic network in the world: we owe it to our people to make best use of these assets, which scarcely any of our peers can match.

“The British taxpayer has the right to expect that we achieve the maximum value with every pound we spend."

Mr Johnson said there was "a dividing line between aid and foreign policy runs through our whole system" and explained: " DFID outspends the Foreign Office more than four times over and yet no single decision-maker in either department is able to unite our efforts or take a comprehensive overview.

“We give as much aid to Zambia as we do to Ukraine, though the latter is vital for European security.

“We give ten times as much aid to Tanzania as we do to the six countries of the Western Balkans, who are acutely vulnerable to Russian meddling.

“And, regardless of the merits of these decisions, no single department is currently empowered to judge whether they make sense or not: we tolerate an inherent risk of our left and right hands working independently."

He confirmed that Dominic Raab would be "empowered to decide" which countries get British aid money, and which could have their aid withdrawn, and said the UK was " following the examples of Australia, Canada and New Zealand, all of whom run their development programmes from their foreign ministries."

He explained that the coronavirus crisis had "imposed fundamental changes2 to the way the government had to ork, and said that a "whole fo government approach and getting maximum value for the taxpayer" was essential both at home and abroad.

Ian Blackford, SNP MP and leader of the SNP at Westminster said the plan meant the UK was "turning its back on the world" and ignoring experts.

He said: " “The UK government is using the cover of a terrible health pandemic to rip apart the UK’s structures for international development and humanitarian aid.

"It is clear that the Tories' 'Global Britain' values means the UK is turning its back on the world and to those most in need.

“It is vital the Prime Minister sets out the evidence behind abolishing DfID when just six months ago, more than 100 charities specialising in humanitarian relief, girls’ education, global health, clean water and sanitation, strongly warned against it.

“Only last week, an interim report from the International Development Committee said the move would erode accountability and shift funds from poverty reduction. In taking this decision on DFID, the UK government is once again ignoring expert advice."

Meanwhile, Labour MP Hilary Benn, who was the International Development Secretary from 2003 to 2007, tweeted: “This is the wrong decision.

“DFID is admired and respected around the world and is an expression of the UK’s global commitment to fight poverty, and yet once again a Conservative Government is abolishing an independent development department and putting it back inside the FCO.

“The Prime Minister just referred to DFID as a giant cashpoint in the sky.

“That kind of language shows that he has no understanding at all of the important work that DFID does or of the difference it has made to countless lives.”

The Taxpayer's Alliance welcomed the move but said it was "crucial that the end result is less money being wasted."

James Roberts. the group's political director, added: "Taxpayers must get the maximum possible value for every pound spent. For too long, cash has been thrown away by DfID on ineffective and unjustified projects - money must now go to those most in need, at home and abroad.

"As part of a single foreign affairs department, it should be easier to place the nation's best interests at the heart of aid decisions, and to save taxpayers' money."

The new department is due to be formally established in early September, Downing Street said, with Anne-Marie Trevelyan remaining International Development Secretary until then.