MPs still waiting for responses on Afghanistan cases depsite PM’s pledge

The Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have been accused of misleading Parliament over a promise to respond to MPs attempting to highlight the plight of those in Afghanistan still in need.

MPs have expressed their concern that emails they sent to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) highlighting individuals who may be eligible for help fleeing Afghanistan have gone unanswered.

Or in cases where replies have been received these have been auto-replies, refusals, or too broad to be relevant.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, Boris Johnson told MPs: “By close of play today every single one of the emails from colleagues around this House will be answered.”

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab reiterated this later, adding: “We will have replied to all MPs’ emails received by 30 August asking for an update by today. That will signpost them to the specific advice relevant to the particular case that they are raising.”

But on Tuesday, Labour MP Abena Oppong-Asare (Erith and Thamesmead) said she was still waiting to receive replies to cases she has flagged with the Government.

While SNP foreign affairs spokesman Alyn Smith wrote to Mr Raab and Priti Patel over the issue.

In his letter, Mr Smith said thousands of emails had gone unanswered.

It follows a similar letter to Mr Raab from shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy who said the issue was not being treated “with the urgency and commitment it deserves”.

In his letter, Mr Smith said: “We wrote on numerous cases to the FCDO, Home Office and MoD (Ministry of Defence) but often only received auto-responses. This is despite the fact we have submitted over 150 cases, almost all of which involve numerous individuals.”

Spending Review
Handout photo issued by UK Parliament of Alyn Smith responds after Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab gave a development update to MPs in the House of Commons (UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor)

He added: “Forgive me for being so blunt, but from our end it seems that the FCDO and the Home Office simply does not care or lacks the resources needed to address a crisis of this scale. I refuse to believe the former given the shocking images we have all been seeing, and therefore can only conclude that it is the latter.”

Meanwhile, raising a point of order in the Commons, Ms Oppong-Asare said: “The Prime Minister said yesterday ‘every single email from colleagues is being responded by close of play today’.

“But by this morning I have still received no response to any of my cases, and I’ve received a further 17 cases which I’ve not received any substantial response.

“Madam Deputy Speaker, can you please advise me how the Prime Minister can be encouraged to come back to the House and correct the record, and how I can ensure that I receive responses to these urgent cases without further delay?”

Deputy Speaker Dame Rosie Winterton, in her reply, said: “I know there were undertakings made yesterday and the House will want to see those fulfilled.

“So I’d very much hope that the Treasury bench has heard her point of order and will relay that back to the Prime Minister and his office, and ensure the undertakings given are fulfilled.”

Mr Smith said: “I have today written to the Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary raising over 100 cases flagged by SNP MPs which are yet to be resolved by the UK government. MPs from different parties have been stonewalled by the Foreign Office, despite the Prime Minister’s promise in the House of Commons yesterday.

“In the last 24 hours alone, Boris Johnson has misled Parliament and broken a separate manifesto pledge to his voters on taxes.”

The FCDO has been contacted for comment.