Tory MP criticised after saying Afghans should fight instead of 'queuing at the airport'

18 August 2021, 15:13

By Emma Soteriou

Tory MP Desmond Swayne has been criticised by MPs for an attack on Afghans for fleeing the country, suggesting there would be more resistance if the crisis were to take place in the UK.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Swayne implied that Afghans were in the wrong by "queuing at the airport" instead of fighting back against the Taliban.

He suggested that Sir Keir Starmer would instead want to be front and centre of the resistance.

Interrupting the Labour leader, Mr Swayne said: "Were the government of this kingdom to be overthrown by a wicked and brutal regime, I venture that he would want a leading role in the resistance, he wouldn’t be queuing at the airport would he?"

Read more: 'Afghanistan fell on Govt's watch': Labour MP demands 'humility' from PM over crisis

Read more: Ex-Marine in Kabul's powerful message to Boris Johnson and MPs on Afghanistan

Mr Swayne was labelled a "disgrace" by other MPs for his words, with members of the House booing following his comment.

Sir Keir replied: "When I was director of public prosecutions I had some of my prosecutors in Afghanistan at huge risk working on counterterrorism with other brave souls there.

"So I won't take that from him or anybody else."

Labour MP Charlotte Nichols accused Swayne of an "absolutely vile intervention", arguing that his "lack of humanity is staggering".

Another Labour MP, Yasmin Qureshi, tweeted: "Anyone else disgusted by what Desmond Swayne just said in the House?"

Read more: UK resettlement scheme could give up to 20,000 Afghans refugee status

It comes as thousands of Afghans were seen attempting to flee Afghanistan at Kabul Airport.

Swarms of people were filmed on the tarmac, with some clinging to the side of a US military transport plane before take-off.

The Ministry of Defence has since confirmed that 200 extra British troops will be sent to Kabul to help evacuate UK citizens and diplomatic staff, as well as former Afghan staff and their families.

This will take the total British troops in Kabul to 900.

Meanwhile, an evacuation flight landed at RAF Brize Norton on Tuesday night.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that up to 20,000 Afghans would be given refugee status in the UK – 5,000 of which being welcomed into the country in the first year.