Boris Johnson has seen off a backbench Tory rebellion over foreign aid after insisting a manifesto-breaking cut was necessary in the face of an “economic hurricane”.

The Commons voted by a majority of 35 to keep the budget for international development at 0.5 per cent of national income, instead of the 0.7% set down in law.

The Government’s win came after the Treasury and the Prime Minister persuaded rebels the cut was vital given the Government’s £407bn mountain of pandemic-related debt.

However many senor Tories, including former PM Theresa May, said the Government had broken its promise to the electorate and warned the cut would cost lives.

Opponents also savaged the Treasury’s formula for restoring the “temporary” cut of £4bn a year, saying its two tests - a sustainable current budget surplus and debt falling as a share of GDP - had only been once in the past 20 years.

That could mean the cut becoming indefinite, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and others warned.

SNP international development spokesman Chris Law said: “This isn’t global Britain, this is a nasty, shot, poor and brutish and, most of all, a very little Britain.”

Aid agencies said the outcome of the vote, which had been forced on the Government by Tory backbenchers and Speaker Lindsay Hoyle, was disastrous.

After the vote, deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner tweeted: “Tory MPs just voted to cut our international aid spending that supports the most vulnerable people in the world.

“Don’t let them tell you they want the money spent here in Britain instead, because they voted to leave our hungry kids with no food too.”

Tory former prime minister David Cameron said: “I deeply regret that efforts to restore 0.7% in aid spending did not succeed in the House of Commons today.

“During a time of huge global challenges, we must not abandon the poorest in our world.

“Supporting countries in their development is not only the moral thing to do – helping them vaccinate against disease; educate their young people; tackle corruption and build better governance; and invest in renewable energy for a greener future – but it is also the means of turning the tide against this devastating pandemic, and is therefore in all our interests.

“I maintain that the cut to international development spending is a grave mistake. When we committed in 2013 to spend 0.7% of GNI on international development, the UK made a promise to care; to act; to lead.

“I sincerely hope that we – Global Britain – will be able to step up and honour our commitment to 0.7 once more, at this time when UK aid is needed more than ever.”

Danny Sriskandarajah, Oxfam GB chief executive, said: “The outcome of today’s vote is a disaster for the world’s poorest people.

“With more people in need of humanitarian assistance than at any time since World War II, aid is needed more than ever.

“The cuts to UK aid are having a direct impact on thousands of lives today and a delay in restoring aid will be felt for generations to come in parts of the world ravaged by conflict, climate change and Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are seeing a yawning gap between the rhetoric of ‘Global Britain’ and the reality of a Government breaking its promises to the world’s poorest and further undermining the UK’s credibility on the international stage.

“These cuts won’t balance the books; the Government is putting politics above the lives of world’s most vulnerable communities.”

Stephanie Draper, CEO of Bond, the UK network of international development organisations, said: “Today, MPs broke their promise to the electorate to address global challenges and turned their backs on those in need.

“It means that children can no longer go to school, vaccines are left to expire and marginalised communities are left to face hunger, malnutrition and disease.

“The aid budget is already linked to economic performance and therefore affordable.

“These additional measures are unnecessary and draconian. They are a death-knell for the Government’s ‘Global Britain’ agenda and leadership in international development.

“This was a political choice, not an economic one, which will do little other than hurt the world’s most marginalised women, men and children, and damage Britain’s reputation in the world.”

Romilly Greenhill, UK director of the anti-poverty One Campaign, said: “Today’s result is a needless retreat from the world stage, enforced by the Treasury, at the exact moment the UK should be showing leadership and stepping up to the greatest global crises in our lifetimes.

“It’s akin to cutting the RAF during the Battle of Britain.

“This so-called compromise effectively means the end of the 0.7% commitment and will diminish Britain’s global standing.

“The real losers of this vote are the three million children who will no longer be able to go to school, the half a million children who will die from preventable diseases and the three million women and children who will go hungry.

“This is also a retreat from British values – and sends a sorry message about the type of country the UK wants to be.”