All the ways Boris and Dom messed up Afghanistan 9 months ago

All the ways Boris and Dom messed up Afghanistan

The PM and the Secretary of State were both on a Summer break. But their failings don't end there

Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab endured an almost four-and-a-half-minute long roasting on Wednesday when the magnitude of their "carelessness" in responding to the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan was laid bare in the House of Commons.


Update: Dominic Raab dodged urgent Afghanistan call while on holiday

Raab was left boiling in his bench, gobsmacked and shouting in frustration, as Labour leader Keir Starmer delivered death blow after death blow in a verbal assault of a dozen cutting remarks.

Starmer laid the groundwork for his offensive, by recalling Johnson's position before the Taliban steamrolled across Afghanistan, seizing control in less than 10 days.


Taliban fighters took their first provincial capital on 6 August. By August 15, they were at the gates of Kabul - while Boris and Raab were on holiday.

Starmer recalled how the PM had told MPs, "there is no military path to victory for the Taliban" and that he did not think they "are capable of victory by military means".


"The British government was wrong and complacent. The Prime Minister was wrong and complacent and when he wasn't re-writing history the Prime Minister was displaying the same appalling judgement and complacency last week," Starmer said, before contrasting the Johnson's reaction to that of the UK ambassador to Afghanistan, Sir Laurie Bristow.

Sir Laurie personally processed the paperwork "for those who needed to flee", as the Taliban arrived at Kabul.

"The Prime Minister's response to the Taliban arriving at the gates of Kabul was to go on holiday. No sense of the gravity of the situation, no leadership to drive international efforts on the evacuation," Starmer said.

Johnson left for Somerset on Saturday. Raab, the Secretary of State, was reportedly in Crete.


At this point, Raab began shaking his head and seemingly asked Starmer what he would do differently.

"I wouldn't stay on holiday while Kabul was falling," Starmer retorted. "And there are numerous examples of those leaders on both sides of the house who have come back immediately in a time of crisis."

At this point, the Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, had to quieten MPs, so Starmer could continue critiquing Rabb's Summer getaway.

And Raab stayed on holiday, Starmer said, while our "mission in Afghanistan was disintegrating".

"Mr Speaker, he (Raab) didn't even speak to the ambassador in the region as Kabul fell to the Taliban. Let that sink in. Let that sink in," Starmer said, before turning the knife: "You cannot coordinate an international response from the beach."


"The dereliction of duty by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, a government totally unprepared for a scenario that he'd had 18-months to prepare for," Starmer continued.

"Mr Speaker, it is something for the people to lose trust in the Prime Minister at home, but when the trust in the word of our Prime Minister is questioned aboard there are serious consequences for our safety and security at home."

Starmer said events in Afghanistan, "shame the West, "before he catalogued exactly what it means on the world stage.

"Not just the scenes of chaos, but what it says about our abandonment of the Afghan people, for the brave people around the world, living under regimes paying scant regard to human rights, but resisting these regimes in pursuit of democracy, equality and individual freedom. What does that say to them?

"What does this retreat from freedom signal to those prepared to stand up for it? What does this surrender to extremism mean for those prepared to face it down," Starmer asked.

"And what does this mean for nations who support an international rules-based system when we hand over power to those who recognise no rules at all? That is the challenge of our time."

Starmer said UK citizens and Afghans alike, "will have to live with the consequences of the PM's failure".

"We have fought for 20 years to rid Afganistan of terror, which threatens our security here in Britain and liberty in Afghanistan. The Taliban are back in control. The Prime Minister has no plan to handle the situation, just as he had no plan to prevent it.

"What we won through 20 years of sacrifice could all be lost. This is the cost, Mr Speaker, of careless leadership."

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