Boris Johnson condemned by MPs from all parties over handling of Afghanistan crisis

18 August 2021, 09:39 | Updated: 19 August 2021, 00:15

Parliament recalled to debate ongoing crisis in Afghanistan | Watch LIVE

By Will Taylor

Boris Johnson has come under fire from MPs from all parties over the abrupt withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

Parliament was recalled on Wednesday for an emergency debate on the ongoing developments in the country after the Taliban swept to power.

The militants seized control of the capital Kabul after days of rapid gains saw the Afghan military crumble and the president flee the country.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused the PM and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab of a "dereliction of duty" over Afghanistan by opting to go on holiday.

He taunted the pair as he told MPs: "You cannot co-ordinate an international response from the beach."

Keir Starmer quotes contradictory comments from the PM on Afghanistan

Sir Keir earlier accused Mr Johnson of "complacency" over the situation in Afghanistan, noting there were "just two passing references" to Afghanistan in the integrated review of security defence, development and policy.

He said MPs on both sides of Commons warned in July that the Government "may be underestimating the threat of the Taliban".

Sir Keir went on: "That was ignored. And the Government's preparations for withdrawal were based on a miscalculation of the resilience of the Afghan forces, and a staggering complacency about the Taliban threat. The Prime Minister is as guilty as anyone."

Read more: Taliban 'beat and whip' crowds as regime tightens grip on Afghanistan

'We're not trained to lose': Veteran MPs condemn 'shameful' Afghanistan withdrawal

Lisa Nandy hits out at Dominic Raab for UK's response to Afghanistan

Former PM Theresa May was among a number MPs from all parties to make critical speeches aimed at Mr Johnson.

She suggested the Prime Minister hoped "on a wing and a prayer it'd be all right on the night" in Afghanistan - before warning that the UK faces an increased terror threat.

Addressing the House, Conservative MP Mrs May said: "In July this year, both President Biden and the Prime Minister indicated that they did not think the Taliban was ready or able to take over control of the country.

"Was our intelligence really so poor? Was our understanding of the Afghan government so weak? Was our knowledge of the position on the ground so inadequate? Or did we really believe this? Or did we feel we just had to follow the United States and hope that on a wing and a prayer it'd be all right on the night?"

Ben Kentish's reaction to Afghanistan debate

Meanwhile former soldier Tom Tugendhat warned Afghanistan "damn well feels like" defeat, as he urged a fresh "vision" must be developed to help.

The Conservative MP, who served in Afghanistan, was applauded following an emotive speech in which he also recalled his experiences in the country.

He ended by recalling his time as an adviser to the governor of Helmand and the "joy" given to families by the opening of schools for girls.

He left MPs with "the image of a man whose name I never knew, carrying a child who had died hours earlier, carrying this child into our fire base and begging for help.

"There was nothing we could do. It was over.

"This is what defeat looks like when you no longer have the choice of how to help.

"This doesn't need to be defeat but at the moment it damn well feels like it."

Tom Tugendhat MP emotional speech: 'This doesn't need to be defeat, but it damn well feels like it.'

Attention has now turned to the mass evacuation at Hamid Karzai International airport and whether human rights - particularly women's - will be respected under the new regime.

Taliban leaders have insisted they will enjoy rights under Islamic rules, but there are fears a strict version of Sharia law will be imposed upon them.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Mr Johnson said the group will be judged on their actions and not their words.

Meanwhile, Mr Raab, who was cut off at 5pm by Speaker of the House Sir Lindsay Hoyle, told MPs the UK Government is "providing a lifeline for the most vulnerable" Afghans.

"As the son of a refugee I am deeply proud that this government is continuing the big-hearted tradition of the British people of offering a safe haven to those fleeing persecution​," he said.

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

'It's all over for us': Pregnant woman blinded by Taliban fears for Afghan women

Johnson: We will judge the Taliban on their actions not words

The foreign secretary added that there will be eight more evacuation flights leaving Kabul today.

It comes after the first flight of its kind departed from the capital on Sunday carrying around 150 UK nationals and their dependents.

He said: "In the last 24 hours, 646 people have been evacuated - a combination of nationals, Afghans who work for us and UK allies - and there will be eight flights following today."

Watch the House of Commons debate again above.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Former US president Donald Trump arrives at Manhattan Criminal Court during jury deliberations in his criminal hush money trial in New York

Trump trial jury resumes deliberations after rehearing instructions and evidence

The Prime Minister was quizzed by a worker during a visit to a factory in Milton Keynes

Rishi Sunak challenged by worker on Partygate during factory visit: 'How can anyone trust you or the Tories?'

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at a Czech Defence Capabilities Event at Prague-Kbely Airport in Prague

Blinken condemns ‘poison’ of Russian misinformation

The judge looked stunned as the defendant appeared before the virtual court room

Judge left dumbfounded as man with suspended licence appears in US court - from behind wheel of car

Andrew Marr's Election Diary: After the first week of election campaigning, writes Andrew Marr

Andrew Marr's Election Diary: After the first week of election campaigning, have we learned anything?

Pressure signals could be used to locate the missing plane

MH370 breakthrough as investigators plan to use sea explosions to solve mystery of aircraft's location

More than eight police forces in England have experienced a decline in total officer numbers compared to May 2010.

A quarter of England's police forces have fewer officers now than when Tories came into power, LBC analysis reveals

French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Joe Biden

Biden to make first state visit to France after attending D-Day commemorations

Fiona Beal, 50, from Northampton, stabbed Nicholas Billingham, 42, to death between October and November 2021

Teacher who murdered boyfriend and buried him in garden jailed for at least 20 years

Heath Ledger in the Dark Knight, 2008

Man who ‘identifies’ as The Joker from Batman accused of trying to kill ex-girlfriend who he called 'his Harley Quinn'

Soldiers help inter the remains of recently identified Greek soldiers who were killed in Cyprus in 1974s

Families reclaim remains of 15 Greek soldiers killed in Cyprus in 1974

Angela Rayner has defended Diane Abbott amid an ongoing row over the MP's future

'No reason' why Diane Abbott can't stand in general election as Labour MP, says Angela Rayner

Richard Tice has called for a police crackdown on ‘cash only’ barber shops

'Barber shops are fronts for money laundering drug money' claims Reform UK leader Richard Tice after LBC question

A nine-year-old girl is in critical condition after a firearm was discharged from a motorbike near a restaurant in Hackney.

Girl, 9, in critical condition after being 'innocent victim' in Hackney shooting outside restaurant

Kate will take part in the ceremony next month

Kate will not take part in Colonel's Review ahead of Trooping the Colour ceremony next month, palace confirms

The groom reportedly found out 12 days after getting married.

Shocked groom finds out ‘wife’ is a man who was dressing as a woman just 12 days after getting married