Boris Johnson: It’s ‘unfair’ to say government was ‘unprepared’
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The GB News chairman described the Prime Minister’s appearance at the dispatch box as an “appalling, halting, meandering, unconvincing, staccato performance”, and even claimed it would have “done his reputation no good”. Mr Johnson spoke to MPs in the packed chamber this morning and defended the UK’s decision to follow the US and withdraw from Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban takeover.
The Prime Minister prompted an outcry from the green benches when he denied claims the Government was caught unaware by the speed of the coup by the extremist group over the weekend.
He also appeared to rule out sending military personnel to fight the Taliban and stressed the priority would be to evacuate UK nationals and Afghan allies.
Mr Neil delivered a scathing assessment of the Prime Minister in a running commentary thread on Twitter.
He wrote: “Defence Secretary Ben Wallace looks furious and grim as PM Johnson waffles and obfuscates.”
Mr Neil continued: “Quite an appalling, halting, meandering, unconvincing, staccato performance by PM Johnson opening Commons debate.
“Nobody could accuse him of rising to the occasion.”
He later added: “PM Johnson told the Commons nothing — and did it badly.
“Even among Tories, this will have done his reputation no good.”
Speaking in the Commons, Mr Johnson conceded after the US announced its intention to withdraw, ministers came up against the “hard reality” that they could not continue – 20 years after troops were first stationed in Afghanistan.
The Prime Minister also admitted the collapse of the Afghan government was “faster than even the Taliban themselves predicted”, but insisted the “very difficult logistical operation for the withdrawal of UK nationals has been under preparation for many months”.
Mr Johnson said: “The West could not continue this US-led mission, a mission conceived and executed in support of America.
“I really think that it is an illusion to believe that there is an appetite amongst any of our partners for a continued military presence or for a military solution imposed by Nato in Afghanistan.
“That idea ended with the combat mission in 2014.
“I do not believe that today deploying tens of thousands of British troops to fight the Taliban is an option that, no matter how sincerely people may advocate it – and I appreciate their sincerity – but I do not believe that that is an option that would commend itself either to the British people or to this House.
“We must deal with the position as it is now, accepting what we have achieved and what we have not achieved.”
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He stressed the UK would be focusing on rescuing British nationals and Afghans who have worked alongside UK forces, but Mr Johnson acknowledged it would be a race against time as he did not know how much longer the Taliban would permit these flights.
The Government has said it will accept 20,000 vulnerable Afghan refugees as part of a new resettlement scheme.
So far 306 UK nationals and 2,052 Afghans have travelled to Britain, with a further 2,000 Afghan applications completed and many more being processed.
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