Starmer hits back at Desmond Swayne during Afghanistan debate
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Sir Keir Starmer furiously hit back at Sir Desmond after the Tory MP suggested the Labour leader would seek to join Taliban-like groups were the British Government to be overthrown. The comments sparked an immediate backlash from the House of Commons, with members shouting “shame” and “disgrace” at the Tory MP. Sir Desmond said: “If the Government of this kingdom were overthrown by a wicked and brutal regime.
“I venture he would want a leading role in the resistance. He wouldn’t be queuing at the airport, would he?”
Sir Keir icily responded: “When I was director of Public Prosecutions, I had some of my prosecutors in Afghanistan, at huge risk, working on counterterrorism with other brave souls there.
“So I won’t take that from him or anybody else.”
He continued: “Once these immediate challenges are addressed, we face an uncertain and difficult future.
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“The Taliban are back in control and we cannot be naive to the consequences.
“We’ve lost our primary source of leverage in political discussions.
“Everything we’ve achieved over the past 20 years is now under threat.”
Sir Keir also argued Boris Johnson’s judgment on Afghanistan has been “appalling” and there has been “a failure of preparation”.
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The Labour leader told the House of Commons: “It should concern us all that the Prime Minister’s judgment on Afghanistan has been appalling.
“Nobody believes that Britain and our allies could have remained in Afghanistan indefinitely or that Britain could have fought alone.
“Nato leaders were put in a difficult position after President Trump agreed with the Taliban that all US forces would withdraw by May 2021. But that agreement was made in February 2020, 18 months ago.
“We have had 18 months to prepare and plan for the consequences of what followed, to plan and to prepare for the resettlement of refugees and those that have supported us, for supporting the Afghan government in managing the withdrawal, for securing international and regional pressure on the Taliban, and support for the Afghan government.”
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Prime Minister Johnson ruled out any resumption of military action in the country and instead called on the United Nations to lead a humanitarian effort.
The Taliban have said they want peace, will not take revenge against old enemies, and would respect the rights of women within the framework of Islamic law.
But thousands of Afghans, many of whom helped foreign forces, are desperate to leave.
Mr Johnson said: “We will judge this regime based on the choices it makes, and by its actions rather than by its words, on its attitude to terrorism, to crime and narcotics, as well as humanitarian access, and the rights of girls to receive an education.
“No matter how grim the lessons of the past, the future is not yet written. And at its bleak turning point, we must help the people of Afghanistan to choose the best of all their possible futures.”
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