Tory MP Tobias Ellwood quits as chairman of defence committee after comments about Taliban

13 September 2023, 17:41 | Updated: 13 September 2023, 18:00

Tobias Ellwood made the comments in July
Tobias Ellwood made the comments in July. Picture: Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Tory MP Tobias Ellwood has resigned as the chairman of the defence committee after he earned praise from the Taliban for saying Afghanistan had improved under its rule.

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Mr Ellwood said security had "vastly improved" under the Taliban's rule in a video posted online in July, in which he called for the British Embassy in Kabul to re-open.

His remarks caused a stir among fellow members of the defence committee, including Tory MP Mark Francois, who labelled Mr Ellwood's comments "bizarre".

But his comments were met with praise by the Taliban.

A spokesperson for the group said at the time: "The report of a British reporter who came to Kabul recently about the current situation in Afghanistan. It is a fact that many positive things have been done."

He is understood to have quit following pressure from fellow members of the defence committee.

Top Tory MP criticised for saying Afghanistan has been 'transformed' under the Taliban

Shortly afterwards, Mr Ellwood deleted the video and posted an apology in which he admitted "reflections of my personal visit could have been better worded".

"I stand up, speak my mind, try to see the bigger picture and offer solutions, especially on the international stage, as our world turns a dangerous corner," Mr Ellwood said.

"I don't always get it right," he added.

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He continued: "During my visit last week, I witnessed something I did not expect to see - an eerie calm and a visible change in security, corruption and opium growth which I felt obliged to report.

"But I also saw a very vulnerable economy that will soon collapse without international intervention, turning this country into a failed state, with terrorist camps no doubt returning and triggering mass migration."

Mr Ellwood concluded his apology: "The awkward truth is we chose to cede power to the Taliban. If we are serious about helping all Afghan people then time is running out before history repeats itself.

"There are no easy choices here. Again, I am sorry for my wording and hope this places my thinking into context."