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Afghanistan 1) Parliament recalled as triumphant Taliban take Kabul

“Afghanistan was braced for a full-scale return to Taliban rule last night as the government in Kabul collapsed, the western-backed president fled and fighters entered his palace claiming victory for their “Islamic Emirate”. Senior Taliban leaders told The Times they would accept nothing less than “absolute power”, dismissing calls to accept a transitional government to oversee a peaceful transfer of control. “We did not fight to share power with anyone,” one said. Boris Johnson conceded that the Taliban would be Afghanistan’s next rulers, saying they must be persuaded not to allow the country to become once again “a breeding ground for terrorists”. He also called on allies not to recognise the Taliban. Johnson suggested the regime’s collapse had been inevitable for several years. “We’ve known for a long time that this was the way things would go,” he said.” – The Times

  • The West flees as Kabul falls – Daily Telegraph
  • A humiliating retreat as Taliban enter Kabul – The Times
  • Panic threatening to overwhelm capital – The Times
  • Johnson urges allies to reject ties with new Islamist regime – The Times
  • “I have accepted death,” says British student on Kabul holiday – The Times
  • Why the Afghan army folded – FT

Afghanistan 2) Tom Tugendhat: Six decades after Suez, we remain impotent in face of US policy

“The fall of Kabul is the biggest foreign policy disaster since Suez. The operation to seize the canal in 1956 symbolised the end of Britain’s global ambition and refocused us on Nato and alliances. It showed conclusively that the US could limit our actions and change our policy. The fall of Kabul will be remembered for similar reasons: not just its abject failure, but also because it revealed the nature of US power and our inability to hold a separate line. The redeployment of 2,500 US troops, half as many as it takes to crew a carrier, ended 20 years of British effort in Afghanistan and left thousands of British citizens under Taliban jurisdiction.” – The Times

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Afghanistan 3) ‘Epic failure’ – Biden under fire over withdrawal…

“Joe Biden is facing the worst crisis of his presidency as his plans for an orderly US withdrawal from Afghanistan crumbled. The frantic scramble to evacuate American diplomats before the Taliban took control of Kabul has raised questions about Mr Biden’s judgement. Despite warnings that the Afghan government would collapse, Mr Biden accelerated the timetable he inherited from Donald Trump. The chaotic scenes unfolding on American television screens were seized upon by Mr Trump and his supporters. “He ran out of Afghanistan instead of following the plan our Administration left for him – a plan that protected our people and our property, and ensured the Taliban would never dream of taking our Embassy or providing a base for new attacks against America,” Mr Trump said.” – Daily Telegraph

Afghanistan 4) …and Raab accused of being ‘missing in action’

“Dominic Raab was accused of being “missing in action” as it emerged he was abroad on holiday when the Afghanistan capital of Kabul fell to the Taliban. The Foreign Secretary was returning to the UK from overseas on Sunday as he faced criticism from the Tory as well as Labour benches for not speaking up more in the last week. Parliament was recalled on Sunday for a special single day sitting, with MPs due to debate the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan on Wednesday. Boris Johnson will interrupt his own summer holiday plans, delivering the opening statement to Parliament for that debate, which is expected to see fierce criticism of the Government. Questions are mounting for Mr Raab over whether he should have called off his overseas holiday sooner than Sunday and about the extent of his engagement on the Afghan crisis this week.” – Daily Telegraph

Home Secretary tells France to do more to stop migrant Channel crossings

“Priti Patel has accused France of failing to do enough to stop migrants from crossing the Channel and warned that numbers will increase as Afghanistan falls to the Taliban. The home secretary told Tory MPs that she would write to Gérald Darmanin, the French interior minister, calling for an increase in beach patrols by French police. More than 11,000 migrants have crossed the Channel in small boats so far this year, including a record daily high of 592 last Thursday. Last month the UK announced that it would give France a further £54 million towards French border controls.” – The Times

  • Patel attacks French police for failing to stop migrants – The Sun

Social media vetting for gun licence applicants

“Police will be required to check the social media profiles of firearm licence applicants under new rules following the Plymouth mass shooting. Officers will trawl the online posts of would-be gun owners to see if they could pose a threat after Jake Davison, 22, used a legal shotgun to murder five people, including a toddler, last week. Davison was given a firearm licence despite online ramblings in which he described himself as an “incel”, one of a misogynistic movement of “involuntary celibate” young men who blame women for their sexual failings.” – The Times

  • Shooting could be declared terrorist attack – The Times
  • Police face questions over Plymouth – The Times
  • Patel criticised for not making mental health checks mandatory – Daily Telegraph
Comment

All 16 and 17-year-olds in England to be offered Covid jab

“They are to be invited for a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by Monday 23 August, the Department of Health has announced. The health secretary, Sajid Javid, said the date would give teenagers two weeks to build up immunity before school starts again in September. Invitations are also being sent out in Wales, while older teenagers in Northern Ireland can use walk-in centres. In Scotland, older teens can register their interest online. About 100,000 texts are being sent to eligible teenagers inviting them to book their jabs.” – The Guardian

Cost of ‘levelling up’ is £2tn, says thinktank

“Boris Johnson’s plan to “level up” the UK will require a similar scale of funding to the near-£2tn reunification of Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a leading thinktank has said. Centre for Cities said the schemes outlined so far by the government were a “drop in the ocean”, and that closing the north-south divide would cost hundreds of billions of pounds over decades if done properly. In a stark analysis shared with the Guardian, the non-partisan research group said England’s biggest cities, including Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, have the lowest productivity and life expectancy in western Europe.” – The Guardian

  • Street says ‘red wall voters want to see delivery’ – The Guardian
  • Johnson expected to delay Cabinet reshuffle until after COP26 – FT
Comment

Former PM lobbied NHS chief for Greensill

“David Cameron showered the chairman of NHS England with praise as he tried to lobby for the financial company Greensill, which later collapsed. In an email sent on July 23, 2019, he asked Lord Prior of Brampton if he could introduce him to Lex Greensill, for whom he was a paid adviser. The former prime minister told Prior, a former Conservative MP and junior health minister in his government: “I’m so glad that you are battling for NHS improvement. It is reassuring to know that there is such an experienced and safe pair of hands at the helm.” – The Times

Cuts to youth services fuelling crime, says Starmer

“The Labour leader said his experience as a former director of public prosecutions showed that youth workers, youth centres and other services aimed at young people were a key plank of early intervention against the causes of crime. He highlighted analysis from the House of Commons library showing cuts to youth services in England since 2011 under successive Conservatives governments were steepest in the most deprived areas. It showed that services in the least deprived areas were cut by 60%, while the average cut across English councils by 2019/2020 was 68%.” – The Guardian

Lumley pleads for deal to end Gurkhas’ hunger strike

“Joanna Lumley urged the government to meet the “brave and loyal” Gurkha veterans on hunger strike outside Downing Street over pension rights. The former soldiers are calling for equal pensions for those who retired before 1997 and are not eligible for a full UK armed forces pension. The Support Our Gurkhas protesters reached their ninth day of not eating yesterday. The actress and campaigner said that ministers “cannot praise our veterans to the high heavens when it suits them, but ignore them and condemn them to poverty when it doesn’t”. – The Times

PM goes teetotal until new arrival

“Boris Johnson is giving up alcohol until his newest baby is born. In what is being reported as a way of showing solidarity with Carrie Johnson, his wife, the prime minister is not planning to have another drink until Christmas, when their second child is due. Johnson, 57, is also still trying to get fitter after his spell in intensive care with coronavirus last year, The Mail on Sunday said. He was 16st 7lb when he was in hospital, but has since lost almost two stones through frequent exercise and a better diet, causing him to buy a new wardrobe of suits. He is said to have cut out late-night binges of cheese and chorizo and eats less chocolate.” – The Times

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