'I leave DfID with great sadness'

Andrew Mitchell is among the state secretaries affected by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s cabinet reshuffle. Mitchell will be leaving the Department for International Development to be the coalition government’s chief whip. Photo by: DfID / CC BY-NC-ND

He was just in Jordan last month, visiting Syrian refugees. But on Tuesday (Sept. 4), the development community woke up to the news that Andrew Mitchell is no longer the United Kingdom’s international development secretary.

In his first cabinet shake-up, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron appointed Mitchell to the position of chief whip Monday evening. Mitchell will be replacing Patrick McLoughlin, who reportedly is being considered as transport secretary.

Mitchell will be replaced by Justine Greening, the outgoing secretary of state for transport.

The move is effective immediately. And according to a Conservative Party member, the chief whip position was what Mitchell has “always wanted,” the Guardian reports.

The decision will see Mitchell bringing his “energy” and “passion” in the international arena back home as the United Kingdom “embarks on the next, vital phase of its mission to restore our economy to growth and reform our public services,” Cameron said in a statement.

Mitchell has led the U.K. Department for International Development for more than two years, having sat as development secretary in May 2010. But prior to that, he was the shadow secretary of state for international development for five years.

Britain has moved to the forefront of development efforts in the international scene under Mitchell’s watch. He boosted the United Kingdom’s foreign aid brand, pushing for transparency and value for money through aid reviews. In June, he also unveiled a new logo that popularly identifies British aid in all of the country’s development projects around the world.

Mitchell was among those who saw the vital role of the private sector in development. He set up a new division within DfID that, according to the department, “[focuses] specifically on encouraging more private investment in poor countries to generate growth, jobs and trade.”

But perhaps one of the most notable achievements in his term as development secretary was being able to dodge cuts to his department.

Christian Aid Director Loretta Minghella hailed Mitchell’s determination to defend the United Kingdom’s aid budget “with passion” amid difficult economic circumstances and “despite strong pressure from some within his own party to balance the UK’s books on the backs of the poorest.”

“His determination and courage have helped protect the Government’s commitment to spending 0.7% of Gross National Income on overseas aid by 2013,” she said in a press release, although the organization still wants to see the government “go further, especially in helping to end aid dependency.”

ActionAid Director Richard Miller, meanwhile, said: “Andrew Mitchell has much to be proud of from his time as Secretary of State for International Development, not least his passionate defence of the Government’s commitment to spending 0.7% of GNI on aid, his commitment to putting women and girls at the heart of international development and his relentless focus on transparency.”

In light of the reshuffle, Mitchell said: “I leave the Department for International Development with great sadness but I very much look forward to the task ahead.”

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About the author

  • Ravelo jennylei

    Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.