'If only I had another seven days': Defence Secretary reveals his 'biggest regret'

27 August 2021, 08:46

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

"If only I had seven more days" Ben Wallace asked what his biggest regret was over Afghan evacuation.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said his biggest regret was not having enough time.

"Every day mattered, and we knew August 31 was the deadline."

Mr Wallace was speaking to LBC just after it was announced Britain's evacuation effort in Kabul had entered their final hours but has not been curtailed by the terror attack that killed US troops and Afghan civilians.

Mr Wallace said he would look back on the crisis in Afghanistan and the efforts to evacuate those at risk, and think "if only I had another seven days."

Mr Wallace said on Friday morning there are just "hours" left in the UK's mission to help people flee the Taliban after closing the main processing site, near where the bombs were detonated.

Despite airlifting nearly 14,000 people out of Afghanistan in the past two weeks, Mr Wallace said "the sad fact is not every single one will get out".

He declined to give a timeline for the exit of British forces but acknowledged it would come before the Americans withdraw, with US President Joe Biden having set a departure date for Tuesday August 31.

Mr Wallace said the Baron Hotel processing centre, near where the bombings took place, was shut at 4.30am, as was the Abbey Gate to Kabul airport.