David Blackburn

The man of the moment

Andrew Mitchell has announced that DfID will provide £52.25 million in emergency aid to ease suffering in East Africa, which has been wracked by drought. The supplies will be distributed to the Dadaab and Dolo Abo refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia, but the bulk of resources will be directed to Somalia, where an estimated 700,000 people are close to starvation. The state’s assistance is in addition to the £13m that Britons have given voluntarily. The International Development Secretary said that surveying these numbers made him “proud to be British”.

Mitchell has been at the forefront of this aid effort and his star has risen accordingly. Jemima Khan was on television this morning, describing him as an “inspiration”. Mitchell is one of the most admired cabinet ministers, and is frequently mentioned as a candidate for promotion. But it’s worth noting that, despite public hostility to the rising aid budget, he has the easiest job government: spending money in disaster zones and managing prison reform in an age of austerity are worlds apart.   

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