Dominic Raab should have taken call if it was recommended, says Darroch

The former UK ambassador to the US has said he thinks Dominic Raab should have called the Afghan foreign minister if he was being recommended to do so by officials.

Lord Kim Darroch said officials only encourage ministers make calls while on holiday if it is “absolutely essential”.

It comes after the Foreign Secretary was reportedly “unavailable” when officials in his department suggested he “urgently” call Hanif Atmar on Friday – two days before the Taliban marched on Kabul – to arrange help for those who supported British troops.

Asked on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme if it would have made a difference if Dominic Raab had made a phone call to his Afghan counterpart to get interpreters and other personnel out, Lord Darroch said: “I don’t know all the facts, I don’t know what other phone calls he was making, I don’t know the precise terms of the advice.

Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan
Dominic Raab leaving Downing Street (PA)

“I know from my own experience that officials understand ministers need holidays and they are very cautious about recommending phone calls during holidays, and only do it if they see it’s absolutely essential. So if they were recommending this call strongly, I think he should have made it.”

He described the Taliban’s seizing of Afghanistan as a “historic defeat for the West and historical failure” which will “encourage extremists everywhere” and have “gone down well in Moscow and in Beijing”.

Lord Darroch added: “In terms of the future of interventions, Iraq was the first intervention that didn’t go well. That changed the public and parliamentary mood on this. And now you have Afghanistan.

“I just think the chances now of any leader, American, British, persuading his Parliament, and his public, to intervene in a future Iraq or Syria or Afghanistan are very, very slight. I think the whole public mood has changed on this.”

He questioned the future of Global Britain as well, stating that the combination of the cut to the aid budget and a possible lack of interventions in the future made him unsure of how it will now be “manifested”.

UK aid
The Government announced it would be cutting it foreign aid budget earlier this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic (Stefan Wermuth/PA)

In a bid to help the Afghan people, the UK is launching a diplomatic push to encourage allies to join it in offering to take in refugees fleeing the Taliban regime.

Downing Street said the ministers will be encouraging international partners to emulate “one of the most generous asylum schemes in British history”.

The Government has said Britain will take up to 20,000 people wanting to exit Afghanistan as part of its resettlement scheme, with 5,000 due to be accepted in the next 12 months.

Labour however has said the offer is not bold enough and has called for a “more generous offer” to be made.