Dominic Raab faces backlash for staying on holiday as Afghanistan collapsed to Taliban

Dominic Raab has come under fire for being "missing in action" during "the biggest single foreign policy disaster since Suez".

A number of politicians have criticised the Foreign Secretary for not being more visible amid the worsening situation in Afghanistan after it emerged he has been on holiday abroad.

On Sunday a Foreign and Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) spokesperson 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."

Raab's return comes after MPs were ordered to Parliament on Wednesday to discuss the calamitous situation in Afghanistan, which is on the brink of falling completely under Taliban control.

Both the US and UK governments have come under fire for the handling of the withdrawal and what critics see as its contribution to the swift deterioration of the situation in Afghanistan. 

Speaking on Sunday, Tum Tugendhat, chair of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, said: "I don't know what's in the works because we haven't heard from the Foreign Secretary in about a week, despite this being the biggest single foreign policy disaster since Suez."

Raab was also criticised by Former Labour Defence secretary, Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, who was Secretary General of NATO from 1999 to 2003.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 15: Prime Minister, Boris Johnson poses with Joe Fraser and other olympians during The National Lottery's Team GB homecoming event at Hilton London Wembley on August 15, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for The National Lottery)
Boris Johnson poses with Joe Fraser and other olympians. (Getty Images)

In a statement shared online, Lord Robertson said: "It is stunning that the Foreign Secretary would stay on holiday as our mission in Afghanistan disintegrated.

"The horrors unfolding with every minute demand focused attention from the top. The urgency involves both the evacuation of British citizens but also what is now to happen to the people of Afghanistan. 

"The fact that the Foreign Secretary is missing in action shows graphically the lack of purpose in our government's attitude to what we set out to do twenty years ago. 

"As Secretary General of NATO on 9/11 and the person who announced the invoking of Article 5, the self-defence cause in the North Atlantic Treaty, I am sickened by the prospect of the twentieth anniversary being marked by the Taliban back in control of Afghanistan."

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 15: Prime Minister, Boris Johnson poses with Oliver Townend and other olympians during The National Lottery's Team GB homecoming event at Hilton London Wembley on August 15, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for The National Lottery)
Before chairing a Cobra meeting about the worsening situation in Afghanistan, Boris Johnson went to a homecoming event for Team GB where he posed for selfies. (Getty)

As the situation continued to worsen on Sunday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson chaired a meeting of the Government's Cobra contingencies committee before making a statement in which he said the UK was determined to work with allies to prevent the country again becoming a “breeding ground for terror”.

But before that, the PM was able to attend a homecoming event for Team GB following the Tokyo Olympics, posing for selfies and having his photo taken with athletes at the Hilton London Wembley.

In a statement on Sunday, Johnson vowed to get as many as possible of the Afghans who worked with the UK out of Afghanistan as the Taliban stood poised to take control of Kabul.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 15: Prime Minister, Boris Johnson poses with Olympians during The National Lottery's Team GB homecoming event at Hilton London Wembley on August 15, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for The National Lottery)
The Prime Minister posted for photos with Olympics during the event in London on Sunday. (Getty)

With President Ashraf Ghani fled, and insurgent fighters surrounding the capital, the Prime Minister said the situation was “extremely difficult”.

He said the British ambassador Sir Laurie Bristow had been at Kabul airport helping to process the applications of those seeking to leave.

"Our priority is to make sure that we deliver on our obligations to UK nationals in Afghanistan, to all those who helped the British effort in Afghanistan over 20 years, and to get them out as fast we can," he said.

"We are going to get as many as we can out in the next few days."

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