'Absurd': Dominic Raab refuses 11 times to reveal holiday dates as tensions boil over fall of Afghanistan

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has repeatedly refused to say if he went on holiday while knowing the Taliban was likely to seize Afghanistan.

In excruciating exchanges with Labour MP Chris Bryant and SNP MP Stewart McDonald at a House of Commons committee hearing on Wednesday, Raab refused 11 times to reveal the exact dates of his infamous luxury holiday in Crete.

Kabul fell to the Taliban on 15 August, with Raab returning on that day.

At the foreign affairs committee, Bryant asked Raab if he was already on holiday on 11 August: the date the US said Afghanistan was likely to fall to the militant group.

Raab refused to answer, saying it was assessed "Taliban consolidation" would take place in the "months following evacuation" on 31 August.

When it was pointed out he didn't answer, Raab said he has previously "given a full statement on my holiday – I said I wouldn't have gone away with the benefit of hindsight".

When Bryant asked a third time when he went on holiday, Raab said: "I'm not going to start, Chris, adding to the fishing expedition beyond the facts I have articulated."

Bryant cut across: "No, no, no. I'm sorry, Mr Raab. The problem here is that of course it's perfectly legitimate for ministers to go on holiday. Everybody has that right and I would argue it's an important part of people being fresh enough to be able to do their job properly."

He said the "difficulty" came as British nationals, and Afghans who had helped the UK over the past 20 years, were at risk in the country. "Do you not see it's important for British people to understand why you thought it was right to go on holiday?"

In another tense exchange later in the hearing, SNP MP McDonald asked eight times what date he went on holiday. Raab again refused to answer.

"Why can't you just answer this question," McDonald said. "This is absurd."

McDonald later told Raab it was a “bad idea” for him, Boris Johnson and senior government officials to take holidays during the evacuation of Kabul airport, after all military leave had been cancelled on 23 July.

Raab continues to face severe criticism over his holiday, as well as his general handling of the Afghanistan crisis.

Johnson was forced to express "full confidence" in Raab on Tuesday, following hostile briefings to the media from government insiders.

Watch: Taliban and UK officials open talks over allowing people to leave Afghanistan

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