Lib Dems call for Dominic Raab’s salary to go to Afghan refugees

Liberal Democrats have tabled a motion in parliament to dock foreign secretary Dominic Raab of his ministerial salary and use the money to pay for resettlement of Afghan refugees.

The move comes as Boris Johnson prepares to defend his government’s handling of the Afghan crisis in a statement to the Commons, in which he will hail the efforts of UK troops and announce £5m to help military charities offering support for veterans with mental health issues.

The prime minister will come under intensive pressure from opposition parties, who accuse the government of failing to complete the evacuation of UK nationals and Afghan staff during the 18 months since then US president Donald Trump struck a deal with the Taliban to withdraw US troops.

He will come under fire over Mr Raab’s decision to stay on holiday in Crete while Afghan capital Kabul fell to the militant Islamist group, some 20 years after they were removed from power.

And he will face questions about why intelligence failed to predict the rapid collapse of the Kabul government and how the UK will secure the removal from Afghanistan of an estimated 1,100 people eligible for resettlement in Britain who were left behind when international troops departed a week ago.

In their early-day motion, the Lib Dems said that Mr Raab’s £71,673 ministerial salary could pay for the resettlement of 10 Afghan refugees, following reports of a £557m shortfall in funding.

The party’s chief whip Wendy Chamberlain said: “Dominic Raab is one of the worst foreign secretaries in British history. He has presided over the worst foreign policy disaster since the Suez and decided to spend more time on the beach instead of picking up the phone to help vulnerable Afghans.

“His continued dithering and delays have put lives at risk. Therefore it’s only right that his pay be docked for failing to do his job properly.

“By repurposing his ministerial salary, we can fund 10 Afghan refugees to resettle and build a new life here in the UK. This is a much better use of taxpayers’ money.”

The early-day motion has no chance of being put to a vote in the Commons or being enforced, but is a means for MPs to register their disapproval of the foreign secretary’s behaviour.

In his statement, Mr Johnson will provide an update on the resettlement programme which will allow 20,000 Afghan refugees to come to Britain – including 5,000 this year. He will commend the “courage and ingenuity” of all involved in the Kabul airlift and vow to use “every economic, political and diplomatic lever to protect our country from harm and help the Afghan people”.

In the week marking the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States, he will thank the 150,000 British servicemen and women for their service over the past two decades and will promise that “no veteran’s request for help will go unanswered”.

The prime minister is expected to say: “Thanks to their efforts, no terrorist attack against this country or any of our Western allies has been launched from Afghanistan for twenty years.

“They fulfilled the first duty of the British armed forces – to keep our people safe – and they and their families should take pride in everything they did.

“Just as they kept us safe, so we shall do right by our veterans.”

The SNP urged Mr Johnson to use his statement to outline a “credible plan” to protect thousands of Afghan refugees and vulnerable people left behind by the UK government.

SNP Westminster deputy leader Kirsten Oswald said: “Boris Johnson shares responsibility for the biggest foreign policy disaster in modern times, and the UK government now has a moral duty to ensure safe routes for refugee resettlement, substantially increase the number of refugees the UK government is willing to take, and outline adequate refugee funding arrangements for the devolved governments and local authorities.”

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