Parliament To Be Recalled Next Week Over Deteriorating Afghanistan Situation
The UK is also currently evacuating British nationals and local translators from Afghanistan (Alamy)
Downing Street has confirmed that Parliament will be recalled next week as the crisis in Afghanistan continues to worsen.
It comes as Taliban fighters reached Kabul over the weekend following a lightening advance through the country.
Parliament has been in recess since since 22 July, and MPs had not been due to return to Westminster until 6 September.
They will be brought back two weeks early to debate the UK's response to the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan. MPs have been told they will return to Parliament from 9:30am until 2:30pm on Wednesday 18 August.
Boris Johnson also convened a meeting of the government’s Cobra contingencies committee on Sunday to discuss the situation.
"I think it is very important that the West should work collectively to get over to that new government — be it by the Taliban or anybody else — that nobody wants Afghanistan once again to be a breeding ground for terror and we don't think it is in the interests of the people of Afghanistan that it should lapse back into that pre-2001 status," the Prime Minister said.
"What the UK will be doing is working with our partners in the UN Security, in NATO, to get that message over. We don't want anybody to bilaterally recognise the Taliban.
"We want a united position among all the like-minded, as far as we can get one, so that we do whatever we can to prevent Afghanistan lapsing back into a breeding ground for terror."
A Downing Street spokesperson confirmed that Johnson has spoken to the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the UN Secretary General António Guterres about the current situation in Afghanistan.
The Prime Minister also reportedly called for a meeting of NATO’s North Atlantic Council and the UN Security Council to take place as soon as possible.
“He welcomed the joined-up international efforts to get foreign nationals, Afghan contractors and humanitarian workers to safety in recent days," they said.
“The Prime Minister emphasised the need for a coordinated and concerted effort from the international community in the coming months to tackle the extremist threat and address the humanitarian emergency in Afghanistan.
“He stressed the importance of any recognition of a new Afghan Government happening on a joint, rather than unilateral, basis.
Labour leader Keir Starmer had called for Parliament to return earlier on Sunday. He said: "The situation in Afghanistan is deeply shocking and seems to be worsening by the hour."
"The immediate priority now must be to get all British personnel and support staff safely out of Kabul.
"The government has been silent while Afghanistan collapses, which let's be clear will have ramifications for us here in the UK."
Starmer continued: "We need Parliament recalled so the government can update MPs on how it plans to work with allies to avoid a humanitarian crisis and a return to the days of Afghanistan being a base for extremists whose purpose will be to threaten our interests, values and national security."
The move comes amid growing criticism from Conservative MPs over the government's handling of the withdrawal from the region.
Tom Tugendhat, chair of the foreign affairs committee, told the BBC the situation was "the biggest single foreign policy disaster" since Suez Crisis in 1956.
He said the priority now should be to withdraw as many people from Kabul before Taliban forces take over.
The UK has sent 600 troops to the region to support the evavuation of British nationals and local translators.
"This isn't just about interpreters or guards," he said.
"This is about those people who we trained in special forces to serve alongside us, those who helped us to understand the territory through our agencies and our diplomats."
He continued: "This is the people who, on our encouragement, set up schools for girls. These people are all at risk now.
"The real danger is that we are going to see every female MP murdered, we are going to see ministers strung up on street lamps."
Meanwhile, Conservative MP and former serviceman Johnny Mercer told Sky News that the UK and US' withdrawal from Afghanistan earlier this year was "shameful".
“This is a political decision, we have politically chosen to be defeated by the Taliban and we have to accept that. Personally I find it shameful.
"I think it's out of keeping with our values and our principles. I never thought I'd see the day, either as the servicemen or as a member of the Conservative Party, where we would essentially surrender to the Taliban and leave these people to their fate. But that day has come. And now we have to deal with it.”
Mercer warned that UK minister should not "underplay" the severity of the situation, adding that the Taliban were a "barbaric force" who should not be underestimated.
"The geopolitical ramifications of this — we will be dealing with the consequences of this for years and years and years, and it's yeah it's truly devastating for lots of people," he continued.
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