Mr Raab was reportedly asked to make a call to Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister Hanif Atmar to organise the urgent evacuation of Afghan interpreters before the Taliban took control of the government palace. He was on holiday in Crete at the time and reportedly passed the duty down to a junior minister. But a Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office spokesperson later said: “Given the rapidly changing situation, it was not possible to arrange a call before the Afghan government collapsed.”
Reports have emerged that Mr Raab was seen laying on a beach at a five-star resort on Sunday, the day Kabul was captured, but the government claim that he was busy on other calls.
Afghan translator Rafi Hottak, who was injured while alongside soldiers in Helmand, was among those to tell of his fury last night, saying: “It is a betrayal.
“The priority should have been British citizens and those Afghans who helped them. They are trapped in chaos now and in the days and hours before the Taliban arrived anything that could have been done should have been done.”
On Wednesday, a leaked United Nations report emerged warning that the Taliban were now plotting murderous revenge against those Afghans who had worked with the West.
It stated the Taliban were carrying out a highly-organised door-to-door hunt for people on their wanted list.
Members of Parliament from both Mr Raab’s own party and the opposition were quick to criticise his decision to shirk the important call.
Labour MP Kevin Brennan said: “How dare he malign British workers like that, especially when he couldn’t be bothered to get off his sun lounger to make a phone call to save people’s lives in Afghanistan.
“He should resign but if he’s too stubborn, Boris Johnson should sack him.”
A Tory MP told the Mail: “Raab was asleep at the wheel. Backbench MPs are absolutely livid about his ‘not my problem guv’ attitude, as if it was not his responsibility.
“It has really riled up colleagues. The issue is not that he was on holiday, it is that he seemed to be unaware of what was happening.”
But, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace suggested that the missed call was irrelevant.
He said “the only thing that mattered” was whether Kabul airport would continue to allow people to get out, and that “no amount of phone calls to an Afghan government at that time would have made any difference.”
Trying to defend himself, he added: “I was engaged in Cobra, talking to foreign counterparts, directly speaking to the head of our team here in London, I was doing that on an hour-by-hour basis and, of course, I left as soon as the situation deteriorated and demanded it.
“But look, in retrospect of course I wouldn’t have gone on holiday if I had known that would be the case.”
“Equally, after 18 months and two years of a very gruelling, demanding schedule, I think it is right that people in those positions try and take some leave, but we are always ready, I’m always ready, to come back.
“And frankly I wouldn’t have gone away if I’d have known that I would be constantly handling and managing meetings, talking to foreign counterparts, and because of technology, of course, able to engage in every one of the Cobra meetings.”
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