Lisa Nandy’s Afghanistan U-turn exposed after Shadow Foreign Secretary blasted withdrawal

Dominic Raab says ‘in retrospect he wouldn’t have gone on holiday’

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On Sunday, the Taliban declared victory after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, to bring an end to almost 20 years of a US-led coalition’s presence in Afghanistan. The Taliban offensive began months ago but accelerated in recent days as they gained control of territories, and captured Afghan capital Kabul. The vast majority of British combat troops left the country in October 2014, while around 750 people remained to train the country’s military.

In July this year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that “British troops assigned to Nato’s mission in Afghanistan are now returning home”.

Indeed, Ms Nandy, who has condemned Britain’s decision to withdraw in recent days, welcomed Mr Johnson announcing a withdrawal from the country in July.

On Radio, she said: “There have been many people who have travelled over to Afghanistan over the last few years from Britain to keep people safe and to keep people alive. 

“But that time is coming to an end.

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“It had outlived its usefulness that – there were real problems with British troops being targeted.

“But there are also problems with the Afghan people feeling that the time was long overdue for them to be able to determine their own affairs.

“In the end, there is no military solution for, no military future for the Afghan people.”

Yet Ms Nandy’s, who is a Wigan MP, has changed her tune in the space of a month, and now condemns the British withdrawal in a surprise U-turn.

Nandy told the BBC: “One of the fallouts from the decision to withdraw and to withdraw very quickly by the US and then by the United Kingdom, is that it sent a message to the Taliban, that they could roam across Afghanistan, with relative freedom with very limited consequences.”

Ms Nandy, who abstained from voting whether the UK should leave Afghanistan in 2010, also wrote a scathing statement on Twitter directed at Mr Raab.

The Foreign Secretary had been on holiday while Afghanistan unravelled, and Ms Nandy accused him of going AWOL.

She wrote: “For the Foreign Secretary to go AWOL during an international crisis of this magnitude is nothing short of shameful.

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“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.”

Mr Raab has since returned to the UK, and also tweeted that he had been sharing his “deep concerns” about the situation in Afghanistan with Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

He added that it was critical that “the international community is united in telling the Taliban that the violence must end and human rights must be protected”.

Mr Raab also announced that the UK is to send a further 200 troops to Kabul after the Taliban seized control of the Afghan capital.

A total of about 900 UK troops will patrol Kabul’s airport after chaotic scenes on the runway, as part of efforts to secure evacuation flights.

Indeed, yesterday there were scenes of panic at Kabul’s airport as many civilians desperate to flee the country had thronged the tarmac.

Britain had announced their withdrawal in conjunction with the US.

Former American President Donald Trump signed a peace deal with the Taliban to bring the conflict to an end in February 2020 whilst his successor, President Joe Biden, announced a full troop withdrawal from the country on May 1 of this year.

Only a month after American troops were evacuated from Bagram Airfield, a number of provincial capitals began to fall to the Taliban.
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