Mon, 15 April 2024

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Dominic Raab To Be Grilled On US-UK Relations And Afghans "Left Behind" At Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing

3 min read

Exclusive: Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will face tough questions on topics ranging from Britain’s relationship with China and Russia, to the number of individuals eligible for UK protection who have been “left behind”, during tomorrow’s emergency Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Afghanistan.

Raab will give in-person evidence to the committee from 2pm after taking the brunt of criticism over the government's handling of the Afghanistan crisis. 

According to documents seen by PoliticsHome, the Foreign Secretary will be grilled on a range of questions, including at what point he became aware Kabul’s fall was imminent, and why the Taliban’s takeover caught the Foreign Office by surprise. 

Raab will also be asked about how many meetings he had with states in the region since April and in particular with “key regional governments” such as Pakistan.

Last Friday The Times revealed that consular staff left papers containing contact details of Afghans working for the UK scattered on the ground of the British embassy in Kabul.  

Raab will be asked to address whether whether he believes Defence Secretary Ben Wallaces was right when he claimed it was “not good enough to leave details of UK-linked Afghans in the British Embassy”.

On the topic of shifts in international relations, Raab will be asked whether Britain can still rely on the US as a partner, and whether the UK has any shared interests with Russia and China in Afghanistan.

As the 31 August deadline for troops to be removed from Afghanistan passed on Tuesday, Raab admitted he did not know exactly how many UK citizens eligible to be evacuated were left behind, something he will once again be asked to clarify at Wednesday's hearing. 

The committee will also question how FCDO can be certain of how many individuals were left behind after The Observer revealed that “thousands of emails to the FCDO highlighting cases of vulnerable Afghans have not been read”.

The government has faced questions over a request by G7 countries for the Taliban confirm to respect human rights if they wish to be recognised as a legitimate government. Committee members are keen for Raab to explain how he believes the extremist organisation can ever really form an “open and inclusive government”, and whether the government plans to impose new sanctions while avoiding making things worse for the Afghan people.

The Foreign Secretary will also face questions on how the UK will approach anti-Taliban resistance groups and what are the chances of a civil war in Afghanistan.

Ahead of the 2pm public committee hearing, which will take place in person, a virtual private briefing will take place, where members of the Foreign Affairs Committee will hear from Athena Rayburn, Advocacy Director for Afghanistan at Save the Children and Chris Loughran, Senior Policy and Advocacy Advisor at The Halo Trust.

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