Raab defends not calling Afghan foreign minister while on holiday amid criticism

20 August 2021, 12:36 | Updated: 20 August 2021, 12:45

The Foreign Secretary said in hindsight he would not go on holiday
The Foreign Secretary said in hindsight he would not go on holiday. Picture: Getty
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Dominic Raab has said he did not call Afghanistan's foreign minister when he was on holiday as he was prioritising securing Kabul airport so that evacuation flights could depart.

The embattled Foreign Secretary has faced mounting criticism over not following up a request to call the Afghan Foreign Minister - as the Taliban was closing in on Kabul.

Mr Raab said media reporting about his involvement in evacuating people from Afghanistan has been "inaccurate".

He has been facing pressure to resign after Labour suggested he and his staff "couldn't be bothered" to call the Afghan government.

But in a statement, Mr Raab says the Afghan foreign minister was unable to take a call because of the "rapidly deteriorating situation".

"On Friday afternoon, 13 August, advice was put to my private office (around 6pm Afghan time) recommending a call to the Afghan foreign minister. This was quickly overtaken by events," it reads.

"The call was delegated to a minister of state because I was prioritising security and capacity at the airport on the direct advice of the director and the director general overseeing the crisis response.

"In any event, the Afghan foreign minister agreed to take the call, but was unable to because of the rapidly deteriorating situation.

"The government's approach to prioritise security at the airport was the right one. As a result, 204 UK nationals and their families, Afghan staff and other countries citizens were evacuated on the morning of Monday 16 August."