Dominic Raab was on holiday, refused call with Afghan counterpart, opposition says he should quit or be sacked.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is facing mounting calls to resign over his lackluster response to the collapse of the Afghan government and the Taliban’s power grab.
Raab had been holidaying on the Greek island of Crete last week as the Taliban advanced on the Afghan capital Kabul.
He also declined an urgent phone call with his Afghan counterpart, instead handing that responsibility to a junior minister in his department.
“How can Boris Johnson allow the foreign secretary to continue in his role after yet another catastrophic failure of judgment? If Dominic Raab doesn’t have the decency to resign, the prime minister must show a shred of leadership and sack him,” Lisa Nandy, shadow foreign secretary for the opposition Labour Party, said.
“As the situation worsened in Afghanistan and the Taliban advanced across the country, we now know the foreign secretary was on holiday. He has the right to go on holiday, but he was very, very slow to grasp what was happening and to return. And now it has emerged that he didn’t even pick up the phone to the Afghan foreign minister as the Taliban were advancing on Kabul,” she added.
The Labour Party has said Raab’s position as foreign secretary is “untenable,” following his failure to take responsibility amid the unfolding crisis in the war-stricken country.
The opposition party also highlighted the anger shown towards the Conservative government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson by its own members, with many MPs, including former Prime Minister Theresa May, castigating Johnson over his failure to prevent the collapse of the Afghan government and military.
Parliament was reconvened on Wednesday for an emergency session on Afghanistan. The House of Commons was packed with lawmakers from all parties and heard impassioned statements of shock, sadness, and disbelief from many MPs, some of whom were veterans of the 20-year war, over the Taliban takeover.
The government has defended Raab’s actions, who himself has also rejected calls for his resignation.
The foreign secretary argues that he was in constant contact with peers and employees over the situation in Afghanistan and was “remotely” attending government meetings.
On the issue of the missed phone call, the Foreign Office said in a statement that Raab “was engaged on a range of other calls and this one was delegated to another minister.”
The government’s explanation and defense of Raab, however, has fallen on deaf ears, as other opposition parties have joined calls for him to step down.
The Liberal Democrat Party, as well as the Welsh Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party (SNP), have said Raab should either quit or be sacked.
“Tory ministers cannot wash their hands of responsibility for this foreign policy disaster. Dominic Raab has failed to perform his basic duties as foreign secretary and he has put people’s lives at risk. His position is completely untenable and he must resign, or be sacked,” the SNP’s Westminster representative said.
“Dominic Raab must resign today. If he does not, the prime minister should finally show some leadership, and sack him,” the Liberal Democrat’s foreign affairs spokeswoman said.