UK 'subservient to US thinking' on Afghanistan withdrawal, says Tobias Ellwood

18 August 2021, 16:45

UK 'subservient to US thinking' on Afghanistan withdrawal, says Defence Select Committee Chair
UK 'subservient to US thinking' on Afghanistan withdrawal, says Defence Select Committee Chair. Picture: LBC/Alamy

By Tim Dodd

The UK was "subservient to American thinking" on the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and "lacks confidence" to make its own decisions, Chair of the Defence Select Committee Tobias Ellwood tells LBC.

It comes amid reports of Taliban abuses, including beatings, whippings and the mistreatment of women, emerging from Afghanistan despite the group's publicity drive.

Shelagh asked Conservative MP for Bournemouth East, Tobias Ellwood: "Are you feeling ashamed of your country at the moment?"

"I don't think ashamed is the right word, I'm certainly disappointed," Mr Ellwood said.

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

"I came into politics wanting Britain to play an increased influential role on the international stage. Here was an opportunity for us to take the lead. Unfortunately we were subservient to American thinking.

"Our foreign policy needs fundamental review because we seem to lack confidence to make our own decisions.

"There's been some falsehoods presented... The UK and the US - we didn't lose anybody over the last three years, the Afghan forces were able to contain and hold the Taliban back."

Mr Ellwood continued: "Rather than stepping up to the plate with that energy we saw at the G7 summit, wanting to play a more influential 'global Britain' role, here we are actually walking away.

"This is a strategic own goal and we're seeing the consequences of our decision unfold rapidly - mass migration, humanitarian crisis and once again the space for terrorism to flourish and we'll regret that at length."

Read more: Afghanistan crisis: 'Jihadists are celebrating this as arguably their greatest victory since 9/11

Shelagh then asked what else the UK military could be doing in Afghanistan if it didn't make "America's full stop our full stop."

Mr Ellwood replied: "America is not leaving Afghanistan. They may say so politically... [They] are haunted by a potential of another 9/11. The CIA, special forces, drone oversight will remain in Afghanistan in many years to come in a clandestine fashion.

"The American force in Afghanistan just prior to the full departure was actually the same as the number of personnel in the US embassy here in London. That gives you the size of what the US commitment was.

"And when they decided to move out, everybody else - I can't believe it - just folded and said we can't be bothered to keep this going."

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