The prime minister’s official spokesperson said there were “certainly no plans” for a vote because the government believes its decision to cut aid spending from 0.7% of national income to 0.5% is compliant with the law.
But it risks inflaming tensions with Tory rebels who believe they have the numbers to defeat the government and that the cut may be unlawful because the 0.7% figure is enshrined in the law.
It also risks the wrath of Speaker Lindsay Hoyle, who on Monday told the government to give MPs a chance to vote on the issue.
Asked about Hoyle’s demand, the PM’s spokesperson told reporters: “We are clear – the government’s decision to temporarily reduce the aid budget to 0.5%of GNI is compatible with the international development act which explicitly envisages there may be circumstances where the 0.7% target is met.
“I think it’s important to note that in 2021 we will still spend £10bn dependent on GNI to improve global health, fight poverty and tackle climate change.”
They added: “There are certainly no plans to bring forward a vote.”
It comes as rebels led by former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell prepare for an emergency Commons debate on the cut on Tuesday.
They applied for the debate after Hoyle rejected their attempts to amend unrelated legislation to reverse the cut from next year.
The Speaker said he could not accept the ploy under Commons rules, but stressed that the government should give MPs a chance to have an “effective” vote on the cut, which has now been rejected.
Tory critics – including former prime minister Theresa May – are now expected to criticise Johnson ahead of this week’s G7 summit in Cornwall.
Mitchell said on Monday that the government was “riding roughshod” over Parliament.
“In the week of the British chairmanship of the G7, the government’s failure to address this issue will indisputably mean that hundreds of thousands of avoidable deaths will result,” he said.
While there will have been relief in Downing Street at avoiding a humiliating defeat ahead of the summit in Cornwall, the scale of the opposition means the issue will not go away.