Afghanistan: Boris Johnson And Dominic Raab Slammed For Going On Holiday While Kabul Fell
Dominic Raab and Boris Johnson have been slammed for going on holiday despite warnings that Kabul was about to fall.
While the Taliban swept through Afghanistan, finally taking hold of its capital city, Raab and Johnson have been criticised for going on holiday in spite of warnings that the chaotic events were about to unfold.
Both the prime minister and foreign secretary have been criticised for a ‘dereliction of duty’ for proceeding to both go on their holidays at the same time, despite the impending occupation.
The foreign secretary, according to earlier reports, had gone on holiday to Cyprus before Sunday morning when the Taliban advanced into Kabul, and the prime minister left for his holiday in Somerset on Saturday.
Former chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), Lord Ricketts, told The Guardian that he found Johnson’s decision to go on holiday ‘surprising’ and Raab’s absence also ‘baffling’.
Conservative MP and Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat outed Raab for his silence on the events which were unfolding in Kabul, claiming to have not heard from him in ‘about a week – despite this being the biggest single policy disaster since Suez.’
Major Gen Charlie Herbert, who took part in three tours of duty in Afghanistan between 2007-18, condemned the prime minister’s actions. He said how Johnson should ‘hang his head in shame’ and called the holiday ‘a dereliction of duty on an extraordinary scale’.
‘That they failed to heed the warning is symptomatic of the disastrous complacency that has led to this national humiliation. Interpreters will die as a result of their apathy’, he said.
Afghanistan’s capital was the last major city to be captured by the Taliban. In the last few days, it has resulted in absolute chaos, as citizens have been flocking to the airport to try and force their way onboard evacuation flights. It has also been reported that at least seven people have died in the disorder.
The UN has subsequently gone on to warn of targeted killings, looting and human rights abuses since the Taliban took over the capital.
While this chaos has been occurring, Raab was reportedly spotted on a beach on the Greek island of Crete by an eyewitness.
The eyewitness, a British holidaymaker, claimed the foreign secretary was at the five-star luxury hotel called Grecotel Amirandes Boutique. It is then alleged that in the evening, Raab then took a flight from Heraklion airport, which lies 30 minutes away from the resort.
The source told the Mirror how they were ‘surprised’ to see Raab ‘lounging around’ on the beach. They stated how it was ‘definitely him’ and ‘accept everyone is allowed a holiday’. But while not being political, thought that ‘the foreign secretary shouldn’t be on the beach on the very day Afghanistan is imploding’.
Raab has now returned, having been seen entering the Foreign Office. Neither the office nor No 10 have denied reports he had been away on holiday.
Johnson similarly has come back from his trip away, having returned in time for his second Cobra meeting in three days, which took place on Sunday afternoon.
A spokesperson said: ‘On Sunday, before returning to the UK, the foreign secretary attended Cobra, held several meetings with FCDO officials focused on evacuations, and called the Pakistani foreign minister.’
Downing Street has also insisted Raab has been ‘working on this crisis throughout’. The Prime Minister will remain working at Downing Street until parliament are recalled on Wednesday, No 10 said.
Labour Shadow foreign secretary, Lisa Nandy, condemned Raab, calling his reported lack of communication and going abroad ‘shameful’. Lord Robertson of Port Ellen and Secretary General of NATO, also criticised Raab following his decision to stay on holiday despite the escalation of events in Afghanistan.
Raab told Sky News that if he had known the Taliban were planning to take over Afghanistan’s capital city on Sunday, he would not have gone away. He said: ‘No one saw this coming. Of course we’d have taken action if we had.’ Raab claimed to have been ‘caught off guard by the pace and scale of the Taliban takeover’, explaining that despite being on holiday, he was still ‘able to respond to events’.
Raab said that, while away, he engaged in COBRA, talked with foreign counterparts and kept in contact with the team in London, saying he left ‘as soon as the situation deteriorated and demanded it.’ After a COBRA emergency committee meeting this afternoon, Raab told broadcasters that they will use ‘every means’ at their disposal.
We need to work with our partners, we need to broaden the caucus of countries that are willing to exercise positive influence, to rein in the worst excesses we saw in the past of the Taliban, and we need to consolidate and try and stabilise the gains – which are considerable – that we’ve made with so much blood, sweat, tears and loss of life, over 20 years, and that’s what we’re committed to doing.
A spokesperson for Johnson said that Britain has been monitoring the situation ‘throughout’ the Taliban’s occupation of Afghanistan and that they have been ‘focused on getting out those Afghan nationals who’ve been working with the British and obviously the British nationals themselves.’
Due to the crisis, the prime minister has called on MPs to return to Parliament on Wednesday. He has chaired his third COBRA meeting in four days.
Labour leader Keir Starmer has condemned Raab’s decision to not return from Cyprus sooner. He called the government’s response to the situation a ‘catastrophic miscalculation’ as to the strength of the Taliban and criticised their response as slow.
There are set to be 200 more UK troops sent to Kabul, in aid of helping British citizens and local allies escape. The Ministry of Defence also confirmed to the PA news agency, that after the Taliban seized Kabul, more services personnel would be sent to Afghanistan.
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