Dominic Raab shuts down Garraway on Taliban stance
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Dominic Raab has admitted he regrets not returning sooner from a holiday abroad amid the worsening crisis in Afghanistan. Taliban fighters took their first provincial capital on August 6 and in a matter of days they were at the gates of the nation’s capital Kabul. The British Foreign Secretary is facing criticism from both Conservative and Labour MPs for failing to return from a vacation abroad sooner given the rising tensions.
Dominic Raab was accused of being “missing in action” after it emerged he was on holiday abroad when the capital of Afghanistan Kabul fell to the Taliban.
The Foreign Secretary returned to the UK from an overseas family vacation on Sunday.
He faced criticism from Tory and Labour MPs for not speaking up more about the ongoing crisis situation last week.
Parliament was recalled on Sunday for a special sitting day, with MPs due to debate the deteriorating crisis in the nation on Wednesday.
The Foreign Secretary today said “in retrospect” he would not have gone on holiday amid the Afghan crisis.
But he also insisted the distressing situation in the country is “stabilising”.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Mr Raab said: “Our hearts go out to the Afghan people, who now face what feels like a pretty wholesale Taliban takeover.
“That’s why we’ve been there, not just to protect the United Kingdom and our allies from insecurity… but to try and improve the lives of ordinary Afghans.
“Those scenes are distressing, but we’ve got to make sure that the airport is stabilised and secure, precisely so, at least in the short term, we get our nationals out and we allow secure safe passage to those who have served us so loyally over the last 20 years.”
Mr Raab added: “We didn’t predict that we would be doing this on this scale because of the Taliban takeover.
“But look, in retrospect of course I wouldn’t have gone on holiday if I had known that would be the case.
“Equally, after 18 months and two years of a very gruelling, demanding schedule, I think it is right that people in those positions try and take some leave, but we are always ready, I’m always ready, to come back.
“And even when I was away, frankly I wouldn’t have gone away if I would have known that, I was constantly handling and managing meetings, talking to foreign counterparts, and because of technology, of course, able to engage in every one of the Cobra meetings.”
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Where did Dominic Raab go on holiday?
It is unclear where Mr Raab has been on holiday.
His vacation break was not made public at the time of his departure.
Upon his return on Sunday, the location from which he had arrived was not shared with reporters or the public.
One eyewitness told the Telegraph the Foreign Secretary returned from Crete on Sunday – but this has not yet been confirmed by Mr Raab or the Foreign Office.
According to the British holidaymaker, Mr Raab was seen sunbathing at a five-star resort on the Greek Island before he took an evening flight on Sunday from the Heraklion airport.
One Conservative MP called the fall of Afghanistan the “biggest single disaster of British foreign policy since Suez”, the 1956 crisis that saw then prime minister Anthony Eden resign.
In the wake of the crisis, questions have been raised about whether Mr Raab ought to have returned from his holiday abroad sooner.
One source told the Telegraph Mr Raab had not talked to any of the UK ambassadors in the countries surrounding Afghanistan by Sunday afternoon.
They also said the Foreign Secretary had not talked to the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, which borders Afghanistan, until Sunday when the Taliban entered Kabul.
The Conservative chairman of the Commons foreign affairs committee, Tom Tugendhat, accused Mr Raab of being “missing in action” as Afghanistan descended into chaos.
Mr Tugendhat refused to back Mr Raab remaining in his post as a result.
He told Times Radio: “Frankly, if the Prime Minister is looking for staff to watch his back then maybe he will choose somebody who isn’t on holiday.”
The Tory added he was “pretty astonished” at the Foreign Secretary’s actions.
A retired military officer said there was precedent for Mr Raab’s removal from his post.
The former officer told the Telegraph: “Lord Carrington resigned for failing to predict the Falklands War. No one else had.
“Raab failed to predict the Afghan apocalypse which everyone seriously warned about for years.”
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