Dominic Raab urged to ‘consider his position’ amid claims he led ‘dysfunctional and chaotic’ Afghanistan evacuation
Dominic Raab has been urged to “consider his position” after a whistleblower alleged he led a “dysfunctional” and “chaotic” operation while foreign secretary.
Shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry questioned the Foreign Secretary after Raphael Marshall, who worked for the Foreign Office during the effort, claimed that just 5 per cent of Afghan nationals who applied to flee under one UK scheme received help.
Some were murdered after being left behind in Kabul after the Taliban swept to power in August, he alleged in devastating written evidence to the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.
He alleged that Mr Raab “did not fully understand the situation”, was slow to rule on cases and requested they were reformatted “in a well-presented table” before making a decision.
She said: “Responsibility goes to the top and what we have at the moment is we had the former Foreign Secretary training around the television and the radio studios, not being prepared to take any responsibility for this at all.
“That I'm afraid is yet another example of the poor character of Dominic Raab. I really think that he should consider his position".
David Lammy MP, Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary added: “This devastating testimony alleges that while Kabul fell and British troops risked their lives, the Foreign Secretary was asleep at the wheel and the department’s response was shambolic and incompetent.
“This whistleblower paints a picture of chaos and dysfunction, for which innocent Afghans have paid the ultimate price. Crucial emails left unread. The crisis centre chronically understaffed. Afghan allies abandoned. Only 5 per cent of those needing help receiving it.
“And a foreign secretary – and still the Deputy Prime Minister – who was lounging on the beach and had lost all grip of his department. “This evidence raises the most serious questions of competence during a moment of international crisis.
“The Foreign Secretary must urgently come to the House and address these claims.”
Mr Marshall also alleged that colleagues lacked knowledge of Afghanistan and that junior officials were “scared by being asked to make hundreds of life-and-death decisions about which they knew nothing”.
“Desperate and urgent” emails, including those with titles such as “Please save my children”, were also being opened but not actioned, he said.
“I believe the purpose of this system was to allow the Prime Minister and the then foreign secretary to inform MPs that there were no unread emails,” Mr Marshall wrote.
He also claimed that at one point he was the only person monitoring an inbox where pleas for help were directed.
Tuesday morning Mr Raab sought to defend his record, having already been heavily criticised for holidaying in Crete as the Taliban took Afghanistan.
He said: “It’s inaccurate in certain respects, the suggestion that junior desk officers were making decisions is just not correct.
“There’s a difference between processing and deciding, so I’m afraid I don’t accept that characterisation.
“On the charge it took several hours to make decisions, we’re not talking about days, it’s not been suggested weeks, but several hours to make sure we had the facts, and that, as between myself, the Home Secretary and the Defence Secretary, decisions were made and actually I would suggest that’s a reasonably swift turnaround.”
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