independent– Foreign secretary Dominic Raab is under fire after spending the past week on holiday abroad while the situation in Afghanistan was unravelling.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said Mr Raab was returning to the UK on Sunday and was “personally overseeing” the department’s response to the crisis.
However, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said that his absence during a moment of major international upheaval was unacceptable.
“For the foreign secretary to go AWOL during an international crisis of this magnitude is nothing short of shameful,” Ms Nandy said.
“A catastrophe is unfolding in front of our eyes and while the foreign secretary is nowhere to be seen, hundreds of British nationals are being evacuated and his department is cancelling scholarships for young Afghans.”
Tory MP Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the foreign affairs select committee, was also scathing when asked about the FCDO’s likely response to the collapse of the Afghan government.
“I don’t know what is in the works because we haven’t heard from the foreign secretary in about a week, despite this being the biggest single policy disaster since Suez,” he told BBC News.
Tobias Ellwood, chair of the defence select committee, said it was the “biggest foreign policy failure in a generation,” adding that UK foreign policy had been “missing in action”.
An FCDO spokesman said: “The foreign secretary is personally overseeing the FCDO response and engaging with international partners. He is returning to the UK today, given the situation.”
Mr Raab meanwhile tweeted that he had been sharing his “deep concerns” about the situation in Afghanistan with Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
He said they had agreed it was critical that “the international community is united in telling the Taliban that the violence must end and human rights must be protected”.
Meanwhile, Lord Ricketts, the former National Security Adviser, predicted that the Taliban will not “make the mistake of allowing al-Qaeda to re-establish themselves in Afghanistan” and that terrorism in the UK is not “an immediate concern in terms of Afghanistan”.