General Lord Richard Dannatt criticised the Government – saying it “was asleep on watch” – as the last RAF planes flew out of Kabul
A former head of the British Army led a barrage of criticism of the Government’s “chaotic extraction” from Afghanistan.
General Lord Richard Dannatt said it was “unfathomable why it would appear that the Government was asleep on watch”.
He said: “We should have done better, we could have done better, and it absolutely behoves us to find out why the Government didn’t spark up faster.”
Lord Dannatt, Chief of the General Staff from 2006 to 2009, told Times Radio: “We gave up unnecessarily the gains that we’ve made and brought instability back to Afghanistan – and instability under the Taliban is going to last for quite a long time.”
As the evacuation mission ended and the last RAF planes flew out of Kabul, there were reports that up to 9,000 people eligible to escape – such as women, journalists and aid workers – had been left behind.
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Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy said: “It really is an unparalleled moment of shame for this Government that we have allowed it to come
The Government said the Taliban had promised that people who wished to leave Afghanistan after tomorrow’s deadline for foreign forces to quit the country would be allowed to go.
A joint statement with the US and more than 90 other countries said: “We have received assurances from the Taliban that all foreign nationals and any Afghan citizen with travel authorisation from our countries will be allowed to proceed in a safe and orderly manner to points of departure.”
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But Sir Nicholas Kay, former UK ambassador to Afghanistan, said: “I don’t think the Taliban have changed. We do need to engage with them, we don’t need to trust them. We need to test them.”
Criticism of the handling of the crisis mounted after it emerged thousands of emails from MPs and charities highlighting potentially eligible cases for evacuation went unread by the Foreign Office.
Labour leader Keir Starmer said: “The fact that so many emails have simply gone unopened is not the fault of civil servants but of government ministers who have been missing in action during this whole crisis. MPs and their staff have been hearing harrowing stories from so many people we should have taken care of, but who have been abandoned to the Taliban.”
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said that Boris Johnson ’s “uselessness” is “unprecedented for a Prime Minister in
He added: “We have been trying to help so many in the most desperate of circumstances and you can’t even be bothered to make sure emails are opened. Sickening.” The Foreign Office said: “This has been the biggest and most challenging evacuation in living memory – a team effort that would not have been possible without the Foreign Office.”
As a plane from Kabul touched down at Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, yesterday, an RAF source said “a small number” of military personnel would be arriving in the next 24 hours.
But the source said: “It is clear that the return of UK military forces from Afghanistan by the RAF has now come to a close.” In all, about 15,000 people were evacuated by UK forces through Operation Pitting.
Tory MP and ex-Army officer Tobias Ellwood said the UK had “very little to show” for its 20-year deployment, which cost the lives of 457 UK troops.
He said: “Our armed forces performed so valiantly but they were let down by their political masters. The manner of our departure is a humiliation.”
Referring to an incident in 2018, Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner posted: “The most attention Boris Johnson paid to Afghanistan is when he flew there to avoid a vote on the Heathrow third runway.”
She said “incompetence” and “totally inept leadership” were Mr Johnson’s style.
In a Twitter video, the PM said the evacuation was “the culmination of a mission unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes”.
He said: “Thanks to the devotion of British troops and aid workers and diplomats and others, we’ve helped educate 3.6 million girls.
“They will have that gift for the rest of their lives, a gift they will pass to their daughters.”
Lib Dem leader Ed Davey said the PM failed to “understand the misogyny of the Taliban”.