Afghanistan

Should Boris Johnson Apologise To UK Troops And Families Over Afghanistan?

A Tory MP labelled the withdrawal "a shambles" and criticised the wider mission in Afghanistan as "poorly executed" and "unrealistic".

A Conservative MP has called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to apologise to bereaved service families and personnel who are "still paying the price" for the UK's handling of the mission in Afghanistan.

John Baron, MP for Basildon and Billericay, has joined a growing number of politicians criticising the decisions made as remaining UK nationals and their local allies try to flee the country with the help of 600 deployed British troops.

Mr Baron, who has been a vocal critic of the campaign in Afghanistan, said "as a country, we need to do our bit" for those displaced by the conflict.

He said: "The fundamental error was allowing the initial limited and successful mission of expelling al-Qaeda from Afghanistan in 2001 to morph into the much wider mission of nation-building in the following years, which meant we had to take on the Taliban.

"This wider mission was born of ignorance, was unrealistic in its aims, poorly executed and thoroughly under-resourced – even the withdrawal is a shambles.

Troops from 16 Air Assault Brigade have arrived in Afghanistan to assist with the evacuations (Picture: MOD).

"Our intervention now brings its responsibilities. In addition to getting our nationals out safely, the international community must now stand by those fleeing the country in fear of their lives, including those who helped British forces.

"As a country, we need to do our bit to reach out and welcome the refugees and asylum-seekers. The priority now is to save lives.

"On behalf of previous governments, the Prime Minister should apologise to the bereaved families of service personnel, and to those personnel who are still paying the price for this folly.

"We also need to examine the lessons from yet another foolhardy intervention – for example, while always maintaining our guard against terrorism, it has distracted us from the bigger threat of hostile nation-states," the MP added.

He was joined in his condemnation by former defence minister Tobias Ellwood, the Tory MP for Bournemouth East.

Mr Ellwood described chaotic scenes at Kabul airport – as people tried to flee the country – as "Saigon 2.0", referencing evacuations in 1975 as the North Vietnamese army captured the city and ended the Vietnam War.

Watch: Chaos as civilians attempt to cling onto a US Air Force aircraft leaving Kabul.

Mr Ellwood, a former British Army captain and current chairman of the Defence Select Committee, tweeted: "Chaotic exodus from Kabul airport. Apaches (helicopters) used to clear the runway.

"If this is not Saigon 2.0 I don’t know what is. Is this how we thought we’d depart Afghanistan? I repeat my call for a UK inquiry."

Tory MP and former defence minister Johnny Mercer, who served in Afghanistan, tweeted that ministers need to "take responsibility" and Afghanistan "deserved better than the nil response this weekend".

And Nus Ghani, Conservative MP for Wealden, told the BBC there was "a lack of foresight, a lack of understanding of Afghanistan".

She said: "What message are we sending now? Working with us means that we will walk away and you will be slaughtered by the Taliban."

She added: "In one fell swoop we’ve taken the country back 20 years."

Watch: British troops from 16 Air Assault Brigade arrive in Kabul as Afghanistan crisis unfolds.

Pressure has been mounting on the UK Government over the withdrawal of troops from the country, and Parliament will be recalled on Wednesday so MPs can discuss the crisis.

The PM's official spokesman said he recognised it would be an "extremely difficult time" for those who had been involved in the conflict.

Asked if Mr Johnson would apologise, he said: "Look, I fully understand that this must be an extremely difficult time for service personnel who served in Afghanistan and indeed the families of those who lost loved ones.

"As the PM has said, the UK can be proud of what has been done in Afghanistan over the past 20 years. It is thanks to their sacrifices that we’ve seen now no al-Qaeda attacks against the West for a very long time, there are millions of girls and young women who have been educated in Afghanistan, and that cannot be taken away."

If you or someone you know needs support at this time, you can find more information by visiting the British Army website and the Government's website.

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Cover image: Library photo of Boris Johnson (Picture: Number 10/Flickr).