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UK FM says he will not resign despite being seen on a beach as Kabul collapsed

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in Khartoum, Sudan on January 21, 2021. [Mahmoud Hjaj - Anadolu Agency]
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in Khartoum, Sudan on January 21, 2021. [Mahmoud Hjaj - Anadolu Agency]

The UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said that he will not resign despite being under fire after he delegated a crucial call to a junior minister last week whilst he was away on holiday as the Taliban took control of Kabul.

The Daily Mail has reported that senior officials advised Raab on Friday to contact his counterpart Hanif Atmar who was seeking urgent help airlifting translators out of Afghanistan, but he did not make it and it was delegated to the duty foreign office minister Lord Goldsmith.

The Foreign Office told the Mail that Raab was engaged on other calls and delegated this one to another minister. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has defended him on the grounds that "no amount of phone calls" would have made a difference.

But according to the Mail, Atmar would only speak to Raab which didn't happen until the following day, Sunday, when the Afghan capital fell to the Taliban.

READ: UK's pledge to resettle 20,000 Afghans is not enough, critics say

Labour leader Keir Starmer said in a tweet: "Who wouldn't make a phone call if they were told it could save somebody's life?"

Starmer said in the Commons: "I wouldn't stay on holiday whilst Kabul was falling."

Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy criticised Raab's comments that there was no alternative but to leave Afghanistan in this way. "It is not true. We could have used the last 18 months to plan our exit."

"The alternative to chaotic exit is not endless war."

The SNP's Ian Blackford has said that Raab's position is "completely untenable and he must resign or be sacked."

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said, "Raab must go" and Lib Dem Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Layla Moran said that "Dominic Raab must resign today. If he does not, the Prime Minister should finally show some leadership, and sack him."

The Telegraph is reporting that Raab had not spoken to UK ambassadors in Afghanistan's neighbouring countries by Sunday afternoon.

The government has already been criticised for its handling of the Afghan crisis, including pledging to take only 20,000 Afghan refugees through a resettlement programme.

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