UK foreign secretary urged to resign after dodging call to Afghan FM

UK foreign secretary urged to resign after dodging call to Afghan FM
Calls for UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to resign are coming from opposition MPs, members of his own party and the British public after he shunned a call with Afghanistan’s FM last week. Raab has no plans to quit.
3 min read
20 August, 2021
Raab chaired a virtual meeting of FM from G7 nations on Thursday saying that leaders discussed 'the gravity of the situation' in Afghanistan [source: Getty]

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is facing mounting pressure to resign following reports that he dodged a critical call to Afghan Foreign Minister Hanif Atmar days before the Taliban seized Kabul. 

Raab, who was away at a luxury hotel in Crete last week, was urged by foreign officials to contact his counterpart in Afghanistan amid a lightning offensive by the insurgents. 

Raab, however, delegated his duties to a junior minister Lord Goldsmith, who attempted to contact Atmar but was initially rejected because he does not have the same seniority level as Raab. It has been reported that the call never took place. 

Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat MPs have called for Raab to resign, or for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to sack him, over what they see as a dereliction of duty. 

Members of the British public have also lobbied for Raab to go. 

The foreign secretary said bluntly to reporters on Thursday that he has no plan to resign. 

"Of course [Raab] has the right to go on holiday but he was very, very slow to grasp what was happening [in Afghanistan] and to return," said UK Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy in a video posted on the Labour Party's Facebook page. 

"And now it’s emerged that he didn’t even pick up the phone to the Afghan foreign minister as the Taliban was advancing on Kabul.

"I think it’s become incredibly clear that the foreign secretary position is untenable," she added. 

Some Conservative MPs - who were not named - agreed Raab should quit or Johnson should sack him, according to The Guardian.  

Thirty-three percent of British adults surveyed in a poll by YouGov also thought Raab should resign, with 25 percent saying he should remain in the role. Forty-two percent responded that they “don’t know”. 

A former translator and British citizen quoted by PA news agency said he was "shocked" Raab did not make the call. "How could somebody do something like that in this chaotic situation?"

"[Raab] is failing to provide safety and protection to the families of those in Afghanistan who have served for the British Government….If he was too busy during his holidays to help, shame on him."

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said on Thursday that the call wouldn’t have made any difference in an attempt to defend his colleague. 

Wallace said the Afghan government was "melting away quicker than ice" by August 13 and added: "You can speculate whether the phone call should or shouldn’t have been made, but it wouldn’t have made a blind bit of difference."

Kabul, like the majority of Afghanistan, is now in the hands of the Taliban, an insurgent militant group with a track record of violence against ethnic and religious minorities as well as denying women their right to education.