MPs Call for Foreign Office Chief to Resign over ‘Disastrous’ Afghanistan Withdrawal

The Foreign Affairs Committee’s report into the withdrawal of Afghanistan is absolutely scathing. Led by Tom Tugendhat, the report slams the Foreign Office for “systemic failures of intelligence, diplomacy, planning and preparation”, which “cost lives” and will “damage the UK’s interests for years to come“. Easy reading for Dominic Raab…

Given Raab’s already been taken off the Foreign Office brief, however, the man who bears the brunt of the criticism while still in situ is the Permanent Under-Secretary Sir Philip Barton. In no uncertain terms, the Committee tells Barton he should pack his bags:

“The fact the Foreign Office’s senior leaders were on holiday when Kabul fell marks a fundamental lack of seriousness, grip or leadership at a time of national emergency… The committee has lost confidence in the ­Permanent Under-Secretary, who should consider his position.”

Tugendhat himself also laid into Barton, saying he’s “let the side down” and should go:

“The absence of the top leadership, ministerial and official, when Kabul fell is a grave indictment on those ­supposedly in charge… we don’t have confidence in him. It’s up to the government whether they keep him…”

This morning Tugendhat appeared on Sky News to discuss the findings, and at one point even got emotional over the handling of the evacuation. Looks like Barton might end up taking a more permanent holiday fairly soon…

mdi-timer 24 May 2022 @ 13:44 24 May 2022 @ 13:44 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Foreign Affairs Committee Whistleblower is Newsnight Leaker

At 09:59 the Foreign Affairs Committee released new evidence from an FCDO whistleblower – Josie Stewart – who states it was “widespread ‘‘knowledge’ in the FCDO Crisis Centre that the decision on Nowzad’s Afghan staff came from the Prime Minister”. 

“I saw messages to this effect on Microsoft Teams, I heard it discussed in the Crisis Centre including by senior civil servants, and I was copied on numerous emails which clearly suggested this.”

“I was copied on an email from Nigel Casey stating that the National Security Adviser would seek input on the Nowzad case from Number 10.”

“Nigel Casey explicitly testified that he had searched his emails and found nothing of relevance, yet when I searched my emails for “PM” and “Nowzad” I found more than one email referencing “the PM’s decision on Nowzad” and with Nigel Casey in copy.”

All very interesting, if a bit historic at this point. While FAC MP members will no doubt want to pore over this testimony, they may also want to know something about Stewart. She was the Foreign Office leaker to BBC Newsnight…

In January, Newsnight editor Sima Kotecha reported having had sight of two emails with the subject heading “Pen Farthing & dogs”, showing the department and special representative Nigel Casey seeking guidance from No. 10 over the issues. Kotecha tweeted these uncropped screenshots on January 27th. Accidentally revealing the photos to have come from the inbox of one J Stewart – the same woman now seeking her time in the spotlight as a whistleblower… 

When the FCDO launched an investigation, Josie Stewart was reported to have denied responsibility for the leak, which we can now surmise was almost certainly the case. Guido didn’t run the story at the time over concerns about naming anonymous sources – even though she was the BBC’s source. Given Josie’s now gone on the record it’s worth reassessing this previous incident…

mdi-timer 21 March 2022 @ 11:37 21 Mar 2022 @ 11:37 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
EU Furious at Taliban for Appointing Non-Inclusive and Unrepresentative Government

Today the EU has complained how quickly the Taliban reneged on their promise to form an “inclusive and representative” government. At least the Taliban are now merely engaging in a culture war…

In a statement released this afternoon, an EU spokesman said:

“Upon initial analysis of the names announced, it does not look like the inclusive and representative formation in terms of the rich ethnic and religious diversity of Afghanistan we hoped to see and that the Taliban were promising over the past weeks.”

“Such inclusivity and representation is expected in the composition of a future transitional government, and as result of negotiations.”

On Tuesday the Taliban unveiled its new ‘caretaker’ administration, which contains a grand total of zero women or non-Taliban members, while including a new interior minister who’s on the FBI’s most-wanted list. The EU’s plan to “engage” with them, provided they “respect human rights, the rule of law and freedom of the media”, lasted about ten minutes. Guido can’t see how the Taliban’s reputation can possibly recover from this…

mdi-timer 8 September 2021 @ 15:32 8 Sep 2021 @ 15:32 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Defensive Boris Attacks Starmer’s Afghanistan No-Show

A packed chamber this afternoon for the Commons’ first session post-recess, once again to debate Afghanistan. A feisty Sir Keir came out fighting:

“Even if they could identify who they had left behind, the Government does not have a plan to get anybody out.”

“We have a Prime Minister incapable of international leadership just when we needed it most.”

Boris’s chosen push-back focused on Starmer’s previous no-shows at Afghanistan debates:

“As far as I can remember, he didn’t even bother to turn up to the first of the three statements I’ve given on Afghanistan in this house, Mr. Speaker, this year … such were his instincts and such was his understanding of this issue!’

Dominic Raab sat silently by his side…

mdi-timer 6 September 2021 @ 16:08 6 Sep 2021 @ 16:08 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Italian PM: Afghan Crisis “A Thorn In The Very Existence” of the EU

In light of the Afghan migrant crisis, Italian PM Mario Draghi is now questioning whether the EU is even fit for purpose, claiming “nobody has a clear strategy” on handling the influx of refugees, and criticising the bloc’s inability “to manage such crises”. You know the solution Mario…

Lamenting the fact both Austria and Hungary are refusing to accept more refugees, Draghi said:

“Europe, united by many principles, is unable to tackle the problem and this is a thorn in the very existence of the bloc… Nobody can claim to have a clear strategy at this stage. Nobody has a road map.”

Still, maybe an EU army will solve all their problems… 

mdi-timer 3 September 2021 @ 14:13 3 Sep 2021 @ 14:13 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Tugendhat Clarifies Taliban Aren’t Just LibDems with Beards

He didn’t need to clarify the Taliban aren’t LibDems – he’d just commended their slick PR…

mdi-timer 2 September 2021 @ 10:08 2 Sep 2021 @ 10:08 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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