A key phone call to Afghanistan’s foreign minister was delegated by Dominic Raab to a junior minister and subsequently not made.
The Foreign Secretary is facing calls to quit over his handling of the crisis in Afghanistan after he was seen relaxing on a beach in Crete as the Taliban marched on Kabul.
On Friday, Raab was advised to make an “urgent” call to his Afghan counterpart, Hamir Atmar, to make arrangements for the evacuation of interpreters who had helped the British military. He reportedly delegated the call to a junior minister and officials. Those who questioned the decision and insisted it was important that Raab himself make the call were told he was unavailable.
A spokesperson for the foreign office has today admitted it “was not possible to arrange the call” before the government collapsed. The Afghan foreign ministry refused to set up an immediate call between Atmar and a junior UK minister who was not his direct counterpart, pushing it back to the next day.
This meant crucial time was lost before the Taliban seized control of the capital on Sunday provoking chaotic scenes at Kabul airport as people desperately tried to evacuate.
Labour, the SNP, Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru are calling for Raab to resign or to be sacked from his post.
Opposition leader, Keir Starmer took to Twitter to criticise Raab’s behaviour. He said: “Who wouldn’t make a phone call if they were told it could save somebody’s life?”
Labour has drawn up a list of 18 urgent questions for the Foreign Secretary to answer about his trip and his department’s handling of the crisis.
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said Mr Raab had made a “massive error of judgement” which made continuing to represent Britain as Foreign Secretary “completely untenable.”
Downing Street has said it has “full confidence” in Mr Raab who has rejected calls to resign.
Raab said that while he was on holiday he had continued to direct his team and engage with international partners.