PM calls emergency Cobra meeting to discuss deepening Afghanistan crisis

15 August 2021, 14:20 | Updated: 24 August 2021, 09:51

Boris Johnson has called an emergency Cobra meeting in response to the crisis
Boris Johnson has called an emergency Cobra meeting in response to the crisis. Picture: Alamy
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Boris Johnson has called an emergency Cobra meeting for this afternoon to discuss the deepening crisis in Afghanistan as the Taliban edges closer to power.

Downing Street confirmed on Sunday that the government's Cobra contingencies committee will meet in response to the ongoing developments.

It comes shortly after No10 told LBC that Parliament will be recalled on Wednesday in light of the situation in the central Asian nation.

MPs will return from their summer recess to sit for five hours between 9:30am and 2:30pm.

Read more: Afghan minister confirms 'peaceful transfer of power'

Read more: Taliban approaches Kabul as another crucial city falls

Later on Sunday afternoon, the Commons authorities confirmed that Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has granted a request by ministers to recall the House.

The parliamentary authorities said: "The Speaker of the House of Commons has granted a request from the Government to recall the House at 9.30am - 2.30pm on Wednesday August 18 in relation to the situation in Afghanistan."

It comes as Britain and other western countries were scrambling to get their remaining nationals out before it was too late.

Read more: PM defends UK's role in Afghanistan as first troops deployed to aid evacuation

Read more: 'Voice of Sharia': Taliban rename radio station after capturing Afghan city

Many of a 600-strong UK force - including Paras from 16 Air Assault Brigade - are understood to be in the capital Kabul to assist with the operation.

It was reported arrangements were being made for British ambassador Sir Laurie Bristow to be flown out after plans for him to remain with a small team in a secure location at the airport were abandoned.

Officials said they were doing all they could to assist the estimated 2,000 Afghans who had worked with the British during their time in the country to relocate while there was still time.

Amid criticism on the UK's response, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace warned on Sunday that it is "arrogant" to think Britain could unilaterally prevent the nation from falling back under the group's control.

The UK Government has been accused of abandoning Afghanistan to its fate after it - along with other international allies - announced it was following Washington's lead in leaving the country.

But writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Wallace rejected claims that it represented "a failure of leadership and a betrayal of Afghanistan".