THE UK Government's international aid cuts mark the "death knell" for its "global Britain agenda", charity leaders say.

Boris Johnson today survived a Tory revolt over aid cuts which saw Theresa May rebel against the government she used to lead – the first time she's ever broken a three-line whip. None of the Scottish Tory MPs did the same.

The Commons heard people will certainly die as a result of the move to renege on the Conservative manifesto commitment – and legal obligation – to spend 0.7% of gross national income on international development.

Johnson's administration says Covid means it can't now afford that and a majority of just 35 votes will see the spending cut by around £4.4 billion to 0.5%.

May said: "This isn't about palaces for dictators and vanity projects, it's about what cuts to funding mean – that fewer girls will be educated, more girls and boys will become slaves, more children will go hungry and more of the poorest people in the world will die."

The Treasury will only reverse the cut when the UK is no longer borrowing for day-to-day spending and underlying debt is falling, which may not be until after the 2024 election.

READ MORE: Academics quit in protest over UK Government's foreign aid cuts

Stephanie Draper, chief executive officer of UK aid network Bond, 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."

She went on: "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.”

The SNP's Chris Law branded the move "callous" and put the Conservative administration "to shame", saying: "Make no mistake, these cuts will cost lives."

He accused Johnson of "running away from" the consequences of the move.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak argued MPs were voting on a"road map" to restore the funding, rather than approval for a cut. Existing forecasts run to 2025-26 and in no year is the current budget forecast to be in surplus, while net debt is not forecast to start to fall until 2024-25.

READ MORE: 'An attack on aid': Sciaf and Mercy Corps on UK overseas aid budget cuts

Defending his government's actions, Sunak said MPs "should be proud of what UK overseas aid means to millions of the world's poorest people", including "food parcels stamped with a Union Jack arriving in famine-stricken countries like Syria and Somalia".

But Tory former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell – one of the rebel ringleaders – said the conditions to restore funding had only been met once in the last 20 years and called Sunak's plan "a fiscal trap for the unwary", adding: "It is quite possible these conditions will never be met."

And he warned Johnson that the cut would damage Tory chances in seats such as Chesham and Amersham, where the Liberal Democrats scored a by-election victory in June, adding: "Anyone who thinks this is not affecting our party's reputation is living in cloud cuckoo land.

"There is an unpleasant odour wafting out from under my party's front door."

Labour leader Keir Starmer said: "We are the only G7 country which is cutting our aid budget.

"That is not the vision of global Britain we want to see on these benches and I don't think it's the vision of global Britain that many on the opposite benches want to see either."

READ MORE: There will be consequences to Westminster's savage foreign aid cuts

Johnson told the House his team had been "compelled to take wrenching decisions", saying: "Last year, under the pressure of the emergency, our borrowing increased fivefold to almost £300 billion – more than 14% of GDP, the highest since the Second World War. This year our national debt is climbing towards 100% of GDP, the highest for nearly six decades."

In his capacity as Moderator of the Church of Scotland, former LibDem MP Jim Wallace, who is also a peer, said: "I am bitterly disappointed in the outcome of today’s vote on aid spending which will see the continuation of harmful and damaging cuts to some of the world’s poorest people and most fragile communities.

"Cutting the international development budget below the 0.7% target continues to be a breach of the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Act 2015.

"It is completely contrary to the manifesto commitments made by all the main political parties – this decision is a moral failure by the UK Government."