THE SNP have challenged Douglas Ross and Scottish Tory MPs to “end their deafening silence” and back cross-party efforts to force Westminster to reverse its devastating cuts to the aid budget.

It comes as Boris Johnson faces a growing rebellion from his own benches over his decision to break a manifesto and legal commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on overseas development aid – despite warnings that the move will hit some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities and undermine the UK’s efforts to secure ambitious targets and goals at this year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow.

Former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell has brought forward an amendment to the Advanced Research and Invention Agency (Aria) Bill due to come before Parliament on Monday. If passed, it would force any shortfall of the original 0.7% aid spending target to be covered by Aria’s budget.

Mitchell said: “The UK is the only G7 country cutting aid. The French are set to reach 0.7%, the Germans will exceed 0.7% this year and the Americans are increasing aid by $14 billion.”

Around 30 Tory MPs back the move – including former prime minister Theresa May.

SNP Westminster deputy leader Kirsten Oswald said: “The Tory government’s cuts to the aid budget in the middle of a global pandemic is callous to the core – punishing some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable as they face a disproportionate hit from the Covid crisis.

“It tells you all you need to know about this Tory government’s toxic priorities that as our international partners recognise the challenges and strengthen their aid spending as we prepare for key global summits, the UK is instead pulling up the drawbridge by cutting support and isolating itself further.”