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Missing in action: UK leadership and the withdrawal from Afghanistan

May 25, 2022 8:06 PM
Originally published by Babergh South Suffolk Liberal Democrats

ej55 (Photo by Farid Ershad on Unsplash)With the Sue Grey partygate report due for publication the media have naturally focussed on speculation on its content and the implications for the Prime Minister.

In all likelihood it will be damaging but not terminal for Mr Johnson as Tory MPs seem to have accepted they will continue to be led by a law breaker. The public have already made op their minds that he broke the law and lied about it

What got missed in the media scrum was a report issued by by the Commons foreign affairs committee chaired by the Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat . It catalogues incompetence and lethargy on a monumental scale in the Foreign Office over the evacuation of Kabul last year

With the exception of a few heroic efforts by individuals, working under enormous pressure, to save lives they were utterly let down by both ministers and top officials. It describes the British withdrawal as a disaster and a betrayal, and is particularly damning about the evacuations.

Amongst the key findings were

1. After the US withdrawal was announced in February 2020, the government was hopelessly slow in addressing the cases of Afghans who had worked for it, and failed to design a scheme to help others who had supported UK objectives until Kabul fell. Emails from desperate people went unread. Sensitive documents were left to fall into Taliban hands.

2. Politicians and senior officials showed too little interest, were absent at key moments, took inadequate or misguided action and failed to record what they did. Dominic Raab, foreign , the prime minister, the minister for Afghanistan, Lord Ahmad, and the Foreign Office's permanent secretary, Sir Philip Barton - were still on holiday on 15 August

3 Multiple senior officials believe that the prime minister played a role in the disgraceful decision to prioritise the case of the Nowzad animal charity.

They concluded that the Foreign Office response probably cost hundreds of people their chance to leave, and thus is likely to have cost lives.

What is shocking is no-one has taken responsibility. Mr Raab was moved but added the job of Deputy Prime Minister whilst many still wait for promised visas to come to the UK

Failure to take responsibility, incompetent planning and absent leadership, the Conservative government summarised in a sentence