Foreign Secretary under renewed pressure as evacuation situation at Kabul airport worsens

The Foreign Secretary has faced calls to resign in the last week over his handling of the Afghanistan crisis

Dominic Raab (Photo by Peter Nicholls - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Dominic Raab is under renewed pressure after new claims emerged accusing him of failing  to engage with foreign counterparts on the Afghanistan situation until the Taliban had reached Kabul.

The Foreign Secretary has faced calls to resign in the last week over his handling of the Afghanistan crisis.

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At a glance: 5 key points

  • Claims surfaced in the Daily Mail have suggested Dominic Raab did not pick up the phone to other fireugn ministers until Sunday (15 August), the day after the Afghan capital feel to insurgents, as he was on holiday. 
  • The Times has also reported that witnesses saw the Cabinet minister swimming and using a paddleboard on the last day of his break, which was spent at a beach at a five-star hotel on the Greek island of Crete.
  • Attempts to repatriate British nationals and Afghans who supported UK efforts in the country are continuing against the clock as the situation at Kabul airport appeared to worsen.
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson backed the Foreign Secretary on Friday (20 August).
  • Mr Raab was already in the firing line after it emerged he delegated a call about the repatriation of Afghan interpreters, while away on August 13, to a junior minister, a decision that resulted in the phone conversation with the Afghan foreign minister not taking place and possibly delaying taking them to safety.

Background

Mr Raab was on holiday on the Greek island of Crete when the request to make the urgent phone call was made, and is said to be staying at the luxurious five-star Amirandes Hotel.

The Foreign Secretary has come under fire after he was “unavailable” to make the urgent phone call to Mr Atmar before Kabul fell to the Taliban.

It was initially reported that the Afghan Foreign Ministry refused to arrange a call with a junior minister, delaying it until the following day (14 August).

However, the Foreign Office has now admitted that the call was not made before the Afghan government collapsed.

A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development spokesperson said: “Given the rapidly changing situation, it was not possible to arrange a call before the Afghan government collapsed.”

Attempts to repatriate British nationals and Afghans who supported UK efforts in the country are continuing against the clock

Time is running out to repatriate people to the UK ahead of US President Joe Biden’s August 31 deadline to withdraw most remaining US troops.

On Friday he did not commit to extending it, in a move that is likely to mean British troops must return home at the same time, as the airport cannot be held without US enforcement.

Reports have suggested the last evacuation flight could be as soon as Tuesday, in order to give British troops enough time to leave safely.

The Prime Minister said 1,000 people had been brought to the UK on both Thursday and Friday, with most of them UK nationals or those who had assisted British efforts in Afghanistan.

Additional reporting from PA