When Parliament is called back from its summer recess today to discuss the looming crisis in Afghanistan, a Tory minister was criticized.
For Foreign Minister Dominic Raab from all over Whitehall the “knives are out” as to whether more could have been done to avert the takeover of Kabul by the Taliban, says Tom Newton Dunn of Times Radio.
This morning Labor leader Keir Starmer accused Dominic Raab of “staying on vacation while Kabul fell” and told the House of Commons: “You cannot coordinate an international response from the beach.”
The Daily Mail notes that when the Taliban stormed the Afghan capital, Raab “was spotted at the five-star Amirandes Hotel in Crete,” which “describes itself as a ‘sparkling boutique resort for the privileged and astute'”. He later arrived in Gatwick at 1:40 am on Monday looking “stressed out” to help deal with ongoing events from London. Boris Johnson was also on vacation in the West Country but took the train back to Downing Street on Sunday.
The Foreign Minister has insisted that when Kabul fell, he did not have to “lounge on the beach all day”, but instead attended a series of meetings from the hotel and only went outside “episodically” to see his family.
In retrospect, he said, he would not have gone on vacation if he had known that the Taliban would take Kabul. “Nobody saw this coming,” he said. Nobody, says i-editor-in-chief Oliver Duff, “except all Afghans, some other countries that are accelerating the evacuation of local Afghan colleagues, and the world media, which sent correspondents to Kabul in time to report on the return of Taliban rule”.
Shadow Secretary of State Lisa Nandy said it “is just a shame the Secretary of State goes AWOL during an international crisis of this magnitude”.
And it wasn’t just opposition MPs who fought in Raab.
Tom Newton Dunn tweeted that there was “deep anger” that Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace, who served in the Scots Guards in the 1990s, “was alone trying to put together a coalition to take the place of the outgoing US.”
Newton Dunn says he was told the State Department “was not interested in joining the Department of Defense’s efforts to find just an additional 3,000 soldiers and accompanying Air Force to replace the US footprint despite full warnings,” and a scathing high-ranking official describes Raab as “an inferior, risk-averse attorney”.
Wallace choked on LBC radio earlier this week when he admitted it was a “deep regret” that “some people are not coming back” from Afghanistan as the US and its NATO allies put down 20 years of military operations.
Sources say the “frustrated minister told his colleagues he believed there would be a” settlement “for the Foreign Office after the crisis,” according to The Guardian.
Wallace apparently complained that diplomats were “on the first plane” from Afghanistan while young soldiers and Defense Department staff coped with the aftermath “to aid desperate efforts to process applications from up to 4,000 Afghans, of whom was assumed to be eligible for relocation ”. in the UK in the midst of chaotic scenes at Kabul International Airport, ”the newspaper said.
A Defense Department spokesman told the Guardian, “The Secretary of State for Defense, the Foreign Ministry and the Home Office have worked side by side at all times in dealing with this crisis.”