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Downing Street has confirmed that Parliament will be recalled next week as the crisis in Afghanistan continues to worsen.
It comes as Taliban fighters reached Kabul over the weekend following a lightening advance through the country.
Parliament has been in recess since since 22 July, and MPs had not been due to return to Westminster until 6 September. They will be brought back two weeks early to debate the UK’s response to the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan.
Timings are yet to be confirmed with Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Downing Street sources said.
Labour leader Keir Starmer had called for Parliament to return earlier on Sunday.
“The situation in Afghanistan is deeply shocking and seems to be worsening by the hour,” he said.
“The immediate priority now must be to get all British personnel and support staff safely out of Kabul.
“The government has been silent while Afghanistan collapses, which let’s be clear will have ramifications for us here in the UK.”
Starmer continued: “We need Parliament recalled so the government can update MPs on how it plans to work with allies to avoid a humanitarian crisis and a return to the days of Afghanistan being a base for extremists whose purpose will be to threaten our interests, values and national security.”
The move comes amid growing criticism from Conservative MPs over the government’s handling of the withdrawal from the region.
Tom Tugendhat, chair of the foreign affairs committee, told the BBC the situation was “the biggest single foreign policy disaster” since Suez Crisis in 1956.
He said the priority now should be to withdraw as many people from Kabul before Taliban forces take over.
The UK has sent 600 troops to the region to support the evavuation of British nationals and local translators.
1/2 The Home Office has already resettled over 3,300 Afghan staff and their families who have worked for the UK.
We will continue to fulfil our international obligations and moral commitments.
— Home Office (@ukhomeoffice) August 15, 2021
“This isn’t just about interpreters or guards,” he said.
“This is about those people who we trained in special forces to serve alongside us, those who helped us to understand the territory through our agencies and our diplomats.”
He continued: “This is the people who, on our encouragement, set up schools for girls. These people are all at risk now.
“The real danger is that we are going to see every female MP murdered, we are going to see ministers strung up on street lamps.”
Conservative MP and former serviceman Johnny Mercer told Sky News that the UK and US’ withdrawal from Afghanistan earlier this year was “shameful”.
“This is a political decision, we have politically chosen to be defeated by the Taliban and we have to accept that. Personally I find it shameful.
“I think it’s out of keeping with our values and our principles. I never thought I’d see the day, either as the servicemen or as a member of the Conservative Party, where we would essentially surrender to the Taliban and leave these people to their fate. But that day has come. And now we have to deal with it.”
Mercer warned that UK minister should not “underplay” the severity of the situation, adding that the Taliban were a “barbaric force” who should not be underestimated.
“The geopolitical ramifications of this — we will be dealing with the consequences of this for years and years and years, and it’s yeah it’s truly devastating for lots of people,” he continued.
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