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Johnson ‘will sack Raab’ in reshuffle over his bungled handling of crisis

“Boris Johnson is furious with Dominic Raab’s bungling of the Afghanistan crisis and will sack him in a reshuffle, allies of the PM said last night. The Foreign Secretary is desperately battling to stay after it emerged he ignored the pleas of officials to act because he was on holiday. A memo reveals Foreign Office staff urged him to speak to Afghan counterpart Hanif Atmar to evacuate British interpreters last Friday as the Taliban advanced on Kabul. But Mr Raab, who was sunning himself in Crete, palmed it off on his junior Lord Goldsmith instead — leading to delays in the crunch call. The PM and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace are said to be raging over the blunder. Seething Tory MPs privately called for him to be sacked.” – The Sun

  • Foreign Secretary defies calls to resign – Daily Telegraph
  • Nobody made ‘delegated’ call – Daily Mail
  • Guards at Kabul embassy told they are ineligible for UK protection – The Guardian

More:

  • Spy chiefs may face grilling over Afghanistan intelligence failings – Daily Telegraph
  • Whitehall chiefs on holiday despite Afghan debacle – The Times

MPs should launch Afghanistan inquiry, says Grieve

“A former chair of parliament’s intelligence and security committee has urged it to launch an investigation into the withdrawal of Nato troops from Afghanistan that led to the country’s takeover by the Taliban. Dominic Grieve, a former Tory MP and attorney general, backed calls for the committee to use its unique position as the watchdog responsible for scrutinising the UK’s intelligence services to summon key evidence and witnesses. The speed of Kabul’s capture over the weekend took some by surprise, including Boris Johnson. The prime minister told the Commons on Wednesday that events in Afghanistan had “unfolded faster, and the collapse has been faster, than I think even the Taliban themselves predicted”. Introspection is now under way about how the government was so blindsided by the Taliban, so much so that the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, remained on holiday until a change of regime appeared all but inevitable.” – The Guardian

  • Britain faces ‘explosion’ of terror attacks as Afghanistan falls to Taliban – The Sun

Comment:

  • US cannot make up its mind about resurgence of al-Qaeda – Richard Spencer, The Times

>Today: Dr Sarah Ingham’s column: How much should we take from, say, the NHS budget to fund a unilateral mission in Afghanistan – if anything?

Some won’t make it out, admits minister amid ‘evacuation chaos’

“Britain’s last evacuation flight could leave Kabul in five days under an accelerated timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan, The Times has been told. Ministers had been working on the assumption that they had until August 31 to move out thousands of British passport holders and Afghan nationals who supported UK forces. Two senior government sources said, however, that ministers were told earlier this week that the last evacuation flight might have to leave on Tuesday before the planned departure of American forces on August 31. Another government source said that the August 24 evacuation date had not been formally agreed. “The focus is on getting people back as quickly as possible,” the source said. “There is no fixed end point for evacuating people. Ministers have not agreed any date for either the end of the evacuation or the departure of the military.”” – The Times

  • Government admits rescue operation could last just ‘a few more days’ – Daily Mail
  • Special forces mobilise in Kabul to get Britons airborne – The Times
  • Afghan translators tell of their fear – Daily Mail

More:

  • Turkey sends troops to border as thousands seek haven – The Times
  • EU shambles: 900 Polish troops rush to border with Belarus to stop migrants from crossing – Daily Express

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Bridgen says if US won’t help get coalition personnel out, the UK may need to deploy more troops

Afghan resistance leader appeals to West for weapons and help

“The leader of the Afghan resistance movement has appealed to the West for weapons and aid, as protesters took the streets in several cities today, raising the national flag in defiance of the Taliban takeover. Ahmad Massoud, head of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, issued a call to arms from the Panjshir Valley, north of Kabul, where hundreds of militia fighters and Afghan soldiers have fled to make a last stand against the Taliban. The valley in the Hindu Kush mountains is famed as the stronghold of Massoud’s father, the guerrilla leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, who led ferocious resistance to the Soviet invasion during the 1980s and to the first Taliban regime a decade later. The valley is littered with the rusted hulks of Soviet tanks.” – The Times

  • SAS-trained Afghan commandos join armed guerrilla resistance movement – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Benedict Rogers in Comment: Hong Kong, Myanmar – and now Afghanistan. America and Britain have failed all three. Next, Taiwan?

Biden’s handling of Afghanistan ‘threatens to plunge UK-US relations to lowest point in 25 years’

“Joe Biden’s handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan threatens to plunge UK-US political relations to their lowest point in 25 years, former UK ambassadors to Washington have suggested. With the US president facing criticism over his failure to engage with other Western leaders as the country fell to the Taliban, there is mounting concern among diplomats, ministers and MPs over the health of the special relationship. On Thursday night, former UK ambassadors said they believed the past week had highlighted the uneasy relationship between Mr Biden and Boris Johnson, contrasting it with the personal alliances forged by Tony Blair and George Bush, and Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Sir Christopher Meyer, who served as the UK’s ambassador in Washington between 1997 and 2003, said the fiasco had punctured many of the widely held beliefs in Whitehall over the nature of the special relationship.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Washington’s decision to withdraw represents first major rift since Biden took office – FT
  • Biden: UK and allies had choice to remain in Afghanistan – Daily Telegraph

More:

  • President ‘loses his grip on reality’ – Daily Mail
  • Defiant US leader defies Democrat critics – The Times
  • White House goes silent after Biden’s Afghanistan interview debacle – Daily Mail

James Kirkup: Our armed forces face a fight for relevance

“In a government whose senior members were found wanting over the Afghan debacle and amid America’s woeful retreat from the world, it is worth noting that Ben Wallace saw it coming. Last January, the defence secretary confessed that what keeps him awake at night is the prospect of US isolationism. Given our lopsided special relationship and our military reliance on the last superpower, we have even more to lose than others from an America First policy. So, Wallace argued, Britain should equip itself to do more without the Americans. That was prudent, prophetic, and in character: Wallace is an unshowy and thus underrated minister. The trouble comes in converting his sensible ideas into reality for Britain’s armed forces. For them, the quick Afghan collapse will combine with slow British social trends to conjure a fundamental challenge in the years ahead: proving the military matters.” – The Times

  • With ministers at war and MPs in revolt, Johnson is fighting a losing battle – Katy Balls, The Guardian
  • Biden has been a monumental disaster – Nile Gardiner, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Tugendhat and Baron. One well known, the other less. But it’s Baron who speaks for more voters on intervention.

Only eight ‘cowboy’ travel test firms taken off list since review began

“Sajid Javid’s review of “cowboy” travel test providers has seen less than two per cent removed so far, with misleading £20 offers still available. A week after the Health Secretary announced an “urgent” review of false claims and rip-off practices by the firms, there are only eight fewer test providers on the 422-strong list than last week. An investigation by The Telegraph found companies on the approved Gov.UK list are also continuing to promote offers to provide tests “from” £20, but which come with catches when a prospective holidaymaker clicks through from the government’s site to the firms’ websites. Nearly all of the 16 companies offering tests from £20 could only deliver them at that price if the returning holidaymaker travelled in person to have the test at the testing firm, usually outside London and as far away as Glasgow or Livingston.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Plans for mass vaccinations are up in the air as officials dither over details – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: Early vaccination was expected to lead to earlier re-opening than our European neighbours. By and large, that didn’t happen.

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Westminster can thwart the SNP’s attempt to entrench their emergency Covid powers

Blair wades into huge climate change row

“Tony Blair has now waded into the climate change debate, with a think tank run by the former Prime Minister urging Britons to cut down on flying and driving vehicles. Boris Johnson wants a “net-zero” Britain by 2050 that includes banning gas boilers in homes and sales of new petrol and diesel cars as part of wide-ranging climate change plans. Now a new report from the Tony Blair Institute has questioned whether meeting this legally binding target in just under three decades will require a “total transformation” of people’s daily lives. The think tank has claimed behavioural changes that will be required over the next 15 years to meet this milestone will be “relatively limited”. Living standards would not be impacted in order for emissions savings to hit the target needed, the report said.” – Daily Express

  • Report says we can still eat meat and dairy – The Times

More:

  • Net zero switch threatens new oil shock, warns top economist – Daily Telegraph
  • Business chiefs call for retrofit scheme to hit home emissions target – FT

>Today:

Ex-Labour MP charged with string of fraud offences

“A former MP is facing fraud charges in relation to an allegation he made fraudulent invoices to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority in 2019. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said it had authorised police to charge Jared O’Mara, who used to represent the constituency of Sheffield Hallam, with seven counts of fraud by false representation. He is charged alongside former aide Gareth Arnold, 28, of Hunter House Road, Sheffield, who faces six counts of fraud by false representation. South Yorkshire Police said the pair had been summonsed to court “in connection with offences relating to a number of allegedly fraudulent expenses claims that were submitted to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority”. The CPS said O’Mara and a third man, John Woodliff, 42, of Dunninc Terrace, Sheffield, were also charged with a Proceeds of Crime Act offence.” – Daily Telegraph

  • London mayor’s office denies feminist activist’s claims over sacking – The Guardian

Unions urge Commons Speaker to take tougher line on unmasked MPs

“Although face coverings stopped being mandatory in most settings on 19 July, government guidance that face coverings should be work in “crowded and enclosed spaces” remains in place, and rules set down by the parliamentary authorities say they should be worn in the main debating space. Four trade unions representing parliamentary staffers wrote to Hoyle on Thursday raising concerns that the scenes of unmasked politicians sitting shoulder to shoulder on the green benches represented “the starkest example yet of the unwillingness of a significant number of MPs to take the most basic of precautionary measures to help protect staff”. They said the “dismissiveness” was insulting and also claimed there was confusion about who was responsible for “ensuring a safe working environment in parliament”, after Boris Johnson’s spokesperson said questions about the rules on masks in the Commons and Lords were “a matter for the parliamentary authorities”.” – The Guardian

News in Brief:

  • For Afghan Christians, the Taliban takeover is a nightmare – Fionn Shiner, The Spectator
  • Why did Khan’s office fire me? – Joan Smith, UnHerd
  • Are the hard-left about to split off? – David Scullion, The Critic
  • As the economic facts change, the SNP simply recalibrates the truth – Tom Harris, CapX