Parliament ‘should be recalled for Saturday sitting to assess Kabul evacuation’

Parliament should be recalled for a special Saturday sitting to assess the final days of the Afghanistan evacuation effort, a former Commons deputy speaker has urged.

House of Lords leader Baroness Evans of Bowes Park has been lobbied by a Conservative colleague who wants the Government to interrupt Parliament’s summer recess for a second time.

Lord Naseby, who served as an MP for 23 years, warned he believes the Taliban will not cooperate beyond August 31 to allow people to flee the country.

MPs and peers must therefore be given the chance to raise issues and understand how the final two days will pan out during a Saturday sitting on August 28, he added.

Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan
Members of the UK armed forces leading evacuees (LPhot Ben Shread/MoD/PA)

The Taliban has warned any attempt to continue the evacuation operation past August 31 would “provoke a reaction”.

The UK expects its involvement in the Kabul effort will end when the US leaves Afghanistan, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday preparing to press US President Joe Biden to delay the withdrawal of his forces.

Lord Naseby told the PA news agency: “It’s behove of any government in a situation as dire as this is to recall Parliament for a second time on Saturday of this week, which is very near August 31, so we can have a complete update.

“I was an MP and each of those MPs have got a responsibility to their communities, and many of them may have Afghans or relations in their community.

“Zoom is all very well but we have a responsibility to allow Parliament to have its voice.

“Then the Government can go away for the last two days and decide how they react to it.”

Lord Naseby said a Zoom session had taken place between parliamentarians and Foreign Office minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on Monday, but questions remained unanswered.

Westminster Portraits
Lord Naseby (PA)

He said he believes the Taliban “won’t move off the August 31” deadline, adding: “We’ve got to face reality. It’s a wake-up call.

“It’s not a party political issue at all.”

On the timing of his proposed recall, Lord Naseby said: “If we’re taking out 1,000 people a day, we ought to know where we are by Saturday.”

Asked how he thinks the Government will respond to his proposal, Lord Naseby laughed as he replied: “I’m not in the guessing game.”

The House of Commons and House of Lords were recalled on August 18 to discuss the Afghanistan crisis, with criticism aimed at Mr Biden, Mr Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab over their handling of events.

The decision on whether to ask the Commons Speaker to recall Parliament is for the Government – not individual members.