Published: 18:55, 28 August 2021
| Updated: 21:34, 28 August 2021
A Kent MP who served as an intelligence officer in Afghanistan says the withdrawal of British troops from the country has been “a staggering failure” by the UK government.
A mass airlift has been under way since the Taliban took control of the capital of Afghanistan, Kabul, with a deadline of August 31 in place for UK and American troops to leave the country. The Allied forces first entered Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks on the US, with the war starting in 2001.
The Ministry of Defence has said the UK's final evacuation flight purely for civilians has left Kabul, with further flights expected to only have UK diplomatic and military personnel on board.
Chairman of the foreign affairs select committee Mr Tugendhat gave a powerful speech during an emotionally-charged Commons debate earlier this month on the sorry situation.
Mr Tugendhat, who served as a territorial army officer in Iraq and Afghanistan, said in an interview with LBC today the foreign affairs committee will be opening an inquiry to find out where things went wrong.
The head of the armed forces, Gen Sir Nick Carter, said it was "heartbreaking" they had not been able to rescue everybody, with hundreds of Afghans eligible to come to the UK remaining in the country.
"This is a national tragedy and is a shameful moment for the UK to be defeated..."
Mr Tugendhat said: “This is a national tragedy and it is a shameful moment for the UK to be defeated - not militarily - but politically in a country we had devoted hundreds of lives and millions of pounds to, as well as 20 years’ of strategic effort.
“This is an extraordinary reversal in British foreign policy. A staggering reversal, the like of which we haven’t seen since Suez in 1956.
“It is going to have extraordinarily serious implications on the way our friends and allies see us, it is going to have really serious implications on the way our rivals and our enemies see us.
“We need to realise that this is a very serious moment for British foreign policy.
“The idea it needs a reset is an understatement. It needs a root-and-branch reform.
“The actions of the Foreign Office are going to be absolutely fundamental to that because this is a staggering failure.”
Mr Tugendhat, 48, would not be drawn on individuals to blame.
But he added: “That is what the inquiry we are going to conduct is going to look for and we are going to look for how to fix it. I’m not going to name individuals.
“But the fact that the permanent under-secretary of the Foreign Office (Sir Philip Barton) came back from holiday a couple of days ago… I mean, if a general had been away on holiday during one of the most important battles of the British Army’s lives, they wouldn’t just be disciplined. They would be sacked.”
Mr Tugendhat left the British Army in 2013, becoming an MP two years later.