Raab prepares for Commons grilling over Afghanistan operation

THE FOREIGN Secretary is to be grilled by a committee of MPs today as the Taliban declared victory and independence for Afghanistan.

The militants took over Kabul airport yesterday following the departure of the last US troops.

Mr Raab will appear before the Westminster foreign affairs select committee after he acknowledged there were still hundreds of British nationals left in the country.

There are also thousands of Afghans still trying to flee, who were unable to get out with foreign forces.

Boris Johnson left Downing Street with his family on Sunday night as the UK withdrew from the country, although No.10 officials insist he is not on holiday.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said he was continuing to work while in the west of England with his son and wife., and will return on Thursday.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson at country family retreat but officials deny PM on holiday

The spokesman also reaffirmed Mr Johnson’s faith in Mr Raab, amid negative briefings by Whitehall insiders against him and reports that his position was under threat.

“The Prime Minister has full confidence in his Foreign Secretary,” the spokesman said.

Ahead of the committee appearance this afternoon, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy issued a list of 10 questions she said Mr Raab must answer.

Among them include what plans the government has to evacuate people left behind in Afghanistan who are eligible to come to the UK; why Mr Raab remained on holiday in Crete while the Taliban took Kabul and what assessment has been made of the terror threat coming from Afghanistan.

HeraldScotland: Lisa Nandy

She said: “This has been the biggest foreign policy failing in a generation. The Foreign Secretary has serious questions to answer when he appears before the Foreign Affairs Committee.

“The questions he must answer are about much more than the chaos of the last two weeks. The Foreign Secretary had 18 months to prepare but was missing in action. As a result, on his watch Britain has become weaker in the world and faces greater risks from terrorism. We had to send our troops into real danger and, despite their heroic actions, thousands of Afghans who supported us over two decades are still at serious risk and British citizens abandoned.”

She added that Mr Raab had to take responsibility for “a catalogue or errors and poor judgement” or resign from his role.

READ MORE: British nationals and child among those killed in Kabul terror attack

Meanwhile the UK Government has launched what it described as “Operation Warm Welcome”, to help resettle Afghan refugees in Britain.

All Afghans who arrive under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) from today will be given immediate indefinite leave to remain, with the government investing £12 million to provide additional school places and £3m to support access to the NHS.

Anyone who has arrived already under ARAP will be able to apply for free to convert their temporary leave to indefinite.

The Secretary of State for Scotland has said he hopes as many Scottish councils as possible will be able to offer accommodation to resettled Afghans.

READ MORE: US remains ‘strong ally’ despite leaks blaming UK withdrawal operation for Kabul terror attack

The Prime Minister said: “We owe an immense debt to those who worked with the Armed Forces in Afghanistan and I am determined that we give them and their families the support they need to rebuild their lives here in the UK.

“I know this will be an incredibly daunting time, but I hope they will take heart from the wave of support and generosity already expressed by the British public.”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “We owe a huge debt to those who worked alongside us in Afghanistan, and it is right that we are offering them a new, secure life in the UK.

“The UK Government is funding an extensive resettlement programme, and I hope that as many Scottish local authorities as possible will come forward to offer accommodation.

“Scotland, and the whole of the UK, has a proud record of helping those fleeing persecution. I know that Scottish communities will do their bit to welcome and support these Afghan families.”

Nicola Sturgeon previously said Scotland stood ready to do what was necessary to help those who had fled Afghanistan, and urged the Prime Minister to increase the number of refugees the UK planned to accommodate.

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992