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Theresa May Says UK's Failure To Support Afghanistan After US Withdrawal is "Incomprehensible"

Theresa May hit out at the government's "incomprehensible" failure in response to the Taliban surge in Afghanistan

3 min read

Theresa May has launched a scathing attack on the Prime Minister over his handling of the Afghanistan crisis and insisted he must face the "consequences" of the Taliban takeover.

The former Prime Minister called the situation in Afghanistan as a "major setback" for British foreign policy.

Speaking in the Commons on Wednesday, May called the UK's failure to secure an international coalition to help support the Afghan government after the US withdrawal as "incomprehensible and worrying".

"What must also be of key concern to us is the message this sends around the world to those who would do the West harm," she said.

"What does it say about us as a country, what does it say about Nato if we are entirely dependent on a unilateral decision taken by the United States?"

She added: "We all understand the importance of American support, but despite the comments from [Boris Johnson] I do find it incomprehensible and worrying that the United Kingdom was not able to bring together not a military solution, but an alternative alliance of countries to continue to provide the support necessary to sustain a government in Afghanistan."

In a further criticism of the UK's operation, she questioned whether "poor" intelligence had failed to highlight the risk of the Taliban advance.

"Was our understanding of the Afghan government so weak? Was our knowledge of the position on the ground so inadequate? Did we really believe this, or did we just feel we had to follow the United States and hope that on a wing and a prayer it would be alright on the night?" May asked. 

She believed that having imposed a deadline on withdrawal had laid the groundwork for the Taliban's overwhelming advance. 

"All the Taliban had to do was to ensure there were sufficient problems for the Afghan government not to be able to have full control of the country and then just sit and wait," May said. 

Her comments came after Boris Johnson dismissed criticism of the UK's response, saying it was "not true" to say the government was "unprepared or did not foresee this".

But the former Conservative Prime Minister said the operation had been a "major setback for British foreign policy".

"We boast about Global Britain, but where is Global Britain on the streets of Kabul? We will be judged on our deeds not our words."

Responding to her comments, Johnson said it was an "illusion" that there was any "appetite amongst any of our partners for a continued military presence or for a military solution imposed by Nato in Afghanistan".

He added: "That idea ended with the combat mission in 2014, and I do not believe that deploying tens of thousands of British troops to fight the Taliban is an option, that no matter how sincerely people may advocate it, that would comend itself to the British people."

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