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Johnson says winning in Afghanistan is ‘not realistic’ after two decades of fighting…

“Boris Johnson said tonight that it is not ‘realistic’ to expect outside powers to impose a ‘combat solution’ on Afghanistan as the Taliban’s surging advance closes on Kabul and British and US troops are sent into evacuate Westerners. The Prime Minister said: ‘There isn’t a military solution. Thanks to the efforts of the UK armed services and all the sacrifices they made we have seen no al Qaida attacks against the West for a very long time.’ ‘I think we have got to be realistic about the power of the UK or any power to impose a military solution – a combat solution – in Afghanistan.’ He spoke after the Taliban seized large swathes of Helmand province , where hundreds of UK troops died over more than a decade of fighting that has seen 454 UK personnel killed since 9/11.” – Daily Mail

  • Rift with US grows as UK minister voices fears over exit – The Guardian
  • Biden could pay a price for leaving Afghanistan – The Times
  • Taliban encircles Kabul after taking Afghanistan’s second city – FT

…but Wallace says British troops ‘could return’

“British troops could be redeployed to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban, the Defence Secretary warned today. Ben Wallace did not rule out putting boots on the ground – or launching deadly air strikes – to beat back the resurgent militants. Leaving “every option open” to protect UK security, he vowed: “I’ll do whatever we need to do to defend the country.” The Cabinet minister warned the Taliban “now have the momentum” and tore into Donald Trump’s “rotten deal” that paved the way for the Western exit last month. Taliban fighters have managed to capture the second largest city of Kandahar and other key strongholds since NATO allies withdrew their remaining forces. Last night 600 UK paratroopers were scrambled back into the capital Kabul to evacuate terrified Brits and embassy staff.” – The Sun

  • Sending back troops won’t solve Afghan chaos, Johnson insists – The Times
  • SAS squad swoops in to rescue Afghan translators – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: Britain and America cannot shrink from the reality of their crushing failure in Afghanistan

Rory Stewart: The Allies’ retreat from Afghanistan is a monstrous act of self-harm

“The Allies’ reckless withdrawal has plunged Afghanistan back into darkness and allowed the Taliban – that horrifying group which brutalised the Afghan population and provided safe haven to Osama bin Laden – to take most of the country in just a few days. It’s a terrible irony that by the 20th anniversary of 9/11 in a few weeks, the whole country may be ruled by the Taliban again. The abandonment, first conceived by President Trump and carried out by President Biden, is a monstrous betrayal. Like other nations involved in this tragedy, Britain has suddenly jettisoned all the moral obligations we have formed over 20 years. It’s as though we had chosen to take a vulnerable family into our care, and then, in defiance of all promises of support, abandoned them. We should be profoundly ashamed of ourselves.” – Daily Mail

  • I despair at this betrayal of Afghan women – Shukria Barakzai, Daily Mail

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: ‘The decision to withdraw is like a rug pulled from under the feet of our partners’. Tugendhat’s Twitter thread on Afghanistan.

‘Cabinet tensions heat up’ the road to Cop26

“Where once the Conservative Party had a significant number of climate sceptics, that has now been replaced by Tory MPs concerned about the cost of living. “I’m not a climate-change denier,” said Craig Mackinlay, the South Thanet MP and founder of the net-zero scrutiny group. “I’m concerned that our electors of the future will be huddling round their heat-pump radiators and paying off the debt on an electric vehicle they never wanted either as they look wistfully at China, Indonesia and other nations still enjoying cheap energy from some of the dirtiest fossil fuels.” This week the WhatsApp group for Tory MPs exploded with anger after polling suggested that Conservative voters would be hit hardest by the transition to net zero. “It’s a hard sell asking people to make sacrifices when the rest of the world, China, Russia, etc, are carrying on as usual,” Brendan Clarke-Smith, the MP for Bassetlaw, said.” – The Times

  • Green grants of £7,000 to help households replace gas boilers – The Times
  • Sturgeon’s North Sea oil U-turn ‘motivated by independence, not climate’ – Daily Telegraph

>Today: Bella Wallersteiner in Comment: On the streets, Extinction Rebellion. Behind them, Conservative ministers

Hinds to be security minister after Johnson u-turn over Patel

“Boris Johnson has made former cabinet minister Damian Hinds his new security minister, after deciding not to let Priti Patel take on the brief. Less than 24 hours after the home secretary was reported to be adding security to her responsibilities, No 10 made an official announcement that Hinds would take the job. Johnson decided to announce the appointment the day after a gunman shot five people in Plymouth in the worst shooting incident on UK soil since 2010. Earlier in the week, German police arrested a UK national employed at the embassy in Berlin on suspicion of spying for Russia, and there have been warnings that the west could face new terror threats following the Taliban advance in Afghanistan. A Tory source said Patel had been lined up to take on the brief, but that there had been a “change of plan”.” – The Guardian

  • Britain axes security minister role after Home Secretary decides to take on power herself despite global turmoil – The Sun

More:

  • UK security chiefs issue guidance to ministers over hackers on WhatsApp – The Guardian

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: Hinds’ return to government sends a signal to ex-Ministers. Keep your nose clean and there’s a way back.

Patel plans network of centres across the country to hold 8,000 asylum seekers

“Priti Patel is planning a network of reception centres to house 8,000 migrants, according to new tender documents. Companies are being invited to bid to create bespoke centres as part of the Home Secretary’s plans to reform the “broken” asylum system and deter illegal migration. They are designed to replace the ad hoc temporary housing of migrants in hotels, hostels and other Home Office or local authority accommodation. Up to 10,000 asylum seekers have been kept in hotels in the past year because of an increase in claims fuelled by migrant Channel crossings. Nearly 11,000 have reached UK shores across the straits of Dover already this year, against 8,700 in the whole of 2020. The proposal is more ambitious than a similar plan for centres to house 3,000 asylum seekers which was drawn up by David Blunkett in 2001.” – Daily Telegraph

  • The department wants the centres to be a combination of new builds and ‘pre-existing infrastructure’ – The Times

Javid cuts NHS Covid test cost in drive to help holidaymakers

“Sajid Javid has cut the cost of NHS coronavirus tests for foreign travel by more than a fifth in an attempt to push down the market rate. However, the health secretary has ruled out imposing a price cap on PCR tests being sold by private providers. MPs said that it was “a slap in the face” for people wanting a foreign holiday but unable to afford it because of the price of tests. Javid also announced a second internal review of the pricing and service standards of all 434 private providers of PCR tests. All arrivals in the UK must book at least one PCR test. Javid’s review will start today and last ten days. It means providers that fail to meet the government’s standards will be removed by the end of this month. The NHS charges £88 for a PCR test for all international arrivals but few people buy it because it is more expensive than the average market rate of £75. Last night Javid said that he was reducing the price to £68 with immediate effect.” – The Times

  • Staff at UK medicines regulator express alarm at plan for budget cuts – FT

We need a cap on party donations, says Tory donor embroiled in ‘cash for access’ row

“The Tory donor at the centre of a “cash for access” row has called for a cap on party donations to stop individuals expecting “something in return” for their money. Mohamed Amersi, 61, has given £750,000 to the Conservatives since 2017, but now believes that donations to a party from a single person should be limited to £25,000 a year. In an interview with The Telegraph, a telecoms tycoon warned that “today there is an erosion of trust” in the political system. The businessman has become embroiled in a public dispute in recent weeks with Ben Elliot, the co-chairman of the Tories, over allegations about “access capitalism”. Mr Amersi is also at odds with other senior Conservatives over his proposals for a new Tory-linked Middle Eastern affairs group, which critics say would rival an existing venture.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Council deputy leader resigns over mocked Marble Arch Mound – Daily Mail

Corbynistas plot conference vote to topple Labour general secretary

“Supporters of Jeremy Corbyn are planning to throw the Labour Party into crisis this autumn by voting down its general secretary, David Evans. Evans was appointed party chief by Sir Keir Starmer in the spring of last year but must be formally approved at a conference vote this year. Groups on the Labour left are co-ordinating an effort to reject Evans, which would throw Starmer’s leadership into turmoil. A full vote on Evans’s appointment, rather than a show of hands, is expected to take place at the conference in Brighton next month. This will set up Starmer and his allies for a fight with those on the party left who were supportive of Corbyn. The Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, which wants grassroots membership to be given more influence, has asked supportive delegates to commit themselves to voting down Evans after accusing him of “stifling internal democracy”.” – The Times

  • Elections watchdog accused of blocking minister from observing ballot in Tower Hamlets – Daily Telegraph

BBC condemns ‘assault on media freedom’ as Russia expels reporter

“Russia is to expel a senior BBC journalist in Moscow by refusing to extend her accreditation in a move the broadcaster has condemned as a “direct assault on media freedom”. Sarah Rainsford’s visa is due to expire at the end of August and will not be renewed. The state broadcaster Rossiya-24 first reported the decision on Thursday evening, calling it a response to alleged UK refusals or delays in issuing visas to Russian journalists. “The expulsion of Sarah Rainsford is our symmetrical response,” the reporter said, calling it a “landmark” move. In a statement, the British embassy in Moscow denied that any Russian journalists had been discriminated against in the UK… Rainsford is an extremely well-regarded journalist who began reporting from Russia two decades ago.” – The Guardian

Law to legalise assisted dying has enough votes to pass, claims peer

“The law to legalise assisted dying has the votes to pass, the peer pushing the legislation has claimed, as opposition to the Bill mobilises ahead of its second reading. Baroness Meacher told The Telegraph that after months of campaigning, she was confident the Assisted Dying Bill had the votes to pass in the House of Lords. The legislation is due to be debated in the Lords in October, with votes expected to take place next year. Baroness Meacher said: “I’m quietly confident that it will get through. There is a tremendous amount of support for assisted dying in the Lords.” She added that there had been a “shift in favour” of assisted dying since the previous vote in 2015, meaning there was “every reason” to believe it would pass. If successful, it would be the first time in history either chamber of Parliament had voted to legalise assisted dying.” – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • Why a row about a Welsh microchip factory is much more significant than it seems – Henry Hill, CapX
  • Reinforcing messages about what makes a “real” boy or girl has no place in schools – Susan Smith, The Critic
  • Why the Left can’t meme – Ed West, UnHerd
  • Devolution doesn’t work in a crisis – Henry Hill, The Spectator