UK troops could not have remained in Afghanistan, PM tells MPs

 

Boris  Johnson faced anger from MPs about the UK’s failure to prepare for the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, as he made the case that Britain could not have stayed in the country “without American might”.

The prime minister said a military defence of Afghanistan by the west was not possible in the absence of Washington’s support.

“I do not believe deploying tens of thousands of British troops to fight the Taliban is an option that would commend itself to the British people or this house,” he said, opening a debate in the House of Commons.

However, his position was quickly challenged by a number of high-profile Tories, including former prime minister Theresa May, former defence minister Tobias Ellwood and former chief whip Mark Harper.

May pressed Johnson on whether he had spoken to Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, about the “possibility of alliance of other forces” in order to replace to replace American troops. The prime minister only replied that he had spoken to Stoltenberg in the last few days.

Harper questioned Johnson on the “catastrophic failure of our intelligence or assessment of our intelligence” given that the prime minister suggested on 8 July there was no military path to victory for the Taliban.

Johnson told the Commons that events in Afghanistan had unfolded faster “than even the Taliban predicted”, but said this had not caught the government “unawares”.

Ellwood called for a formal inquiry into the UK’s failures in Afghanistan – a proposal rejected by Johnson.

Labour MPs called on the prime minister to take more refugees than the 20,000 announced by No 10 on Tuesday night.

The prime minister said the UK’s position was now that it would do everything possible to avert a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, without a military solution.

“We must deal with this position as it now is. Accepting what we have achieved and what we had not achieved,” he said.

Johnson told MPs: “The sacrifice in Afghanistan is seared into our national consciousness, with 150,000 people serving there from across the length and breadth of the United Kingdom – including a number of members on all sides of the house whose voices will be particularly important today. So it’s absolutely right that we should come together for this debate.”

MPs are planning to debate the issue until 5pm, with it unlikely to go to a vote.

Credit by Guardian



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