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British Afghan mission set to end today amidst terror attack threat…

“Troops are living out of rucksacks at Kabul airport to maximise the number of refugees who can be put on flights, military sources say. Soldiers are said to be down to their last rations with only the clothes they are wearing and day packs so that time and flight capacity can be focused on the evacuation. Equipment is being flown home so that the civilian airlift can go on as long as possible in Afghanistan before efforts turn to packing up the British military presence. However, there is an acknowledgement that the airlift will have to end some days before the final departure of western troops. The US has refused to extend the August 31 deadline for withdrawal of troops.” – The Times

  • Britons told to leave Kabul airport over terror fears – Daily Telegraph
  • Allies warn of terror threat at Kabul airport – The Guardian
  • UK tells stranded Afghans not to go to airport – Daily Mail
  • UK nationals of Afghan origin being overlooked in Kabul airlift, claim lawyers – The Guardian
  • Kabul airport faces ‘lethal’ threat, warns minister – The Sun
  • ‘I served you, but you don’t care.’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Harrowing struggle for Afghan refugees to reach Kabul airport, British commander says – The Times
  • Beaten by the Taliban, sworn at by a soldier – The Times
Comment
>Today:

…as Wallace warns: ‘Not everyone is going to get out of Afghanistan’

“Western governments issued what appeared to be co-ordinated statements last night warning their citizens to avoid Kabul airport and advising anyone not inside the perimeter as dawn was breaking in the Afghan capital to “leave immediately”. The Foreign Office said: “Do not travel to Kabul Hamid Karzai international airport. If you are in the area of the airport, move away to a safe location and await further advice”. It is not clear whether the advice was in response to a specific threat, or whether assessments about the numbers of militants in the vicinity of the airport have changed. There has, however, been growing concern in recent days that Isis-K, a local offshoot of the terror network, could target westerners attempting to leave Afghanistan.” – The Times

Carrie Johnson ‘was key to rescue of 200 cats and dogs from Kabul’

“Animal rights activists have credited Carrie Johnson after a former marine was given permission to fly hundreds of dogs and cats out of Kabul. Campaigners claimed that Boris Johnson had ordered Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, to rescue the stranded animals after coming under pressure from his wife. However, Downing Street rejected the claim, made by Dominic Dyer, an animal rights campaigner. Wallace has been involved in a stand-off with Paul Farthing, a British citizen and former marine known as “Pen”, who has been refusing to board a flight out of Kabul unless he can take with him the staff of an animal shelter he set up in Afghanistan.” – The Times

  • PM’s wife ‘raised hope of rescue for Afghan shelter animals and staff’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Wallace decries time spent saving animals – The Guardian

UK ministers ‘set to cut back’ HS2 eastern route

“Britain’s most expensive infrastructure project — the HS2 high-speed railway between London and the north of England — is set to be radically scaled back, as the Treasury attempts to control public spending that has ballooned during the Covid crisis. The eastern leg of HS2, linking Birmingham with Leeds, is expected to be curtailed or mothballed, with government officials citing the “astronomical cost” of the project. Estimated costs for the whole line have tripled to more than £100bn over the past decade. Grant Shapps, transport secretary, has been told by the Treasury to get a grip on the delivery of existing schemes and to be ruthless in prioritising new projects, with ministers fearing the final bill for HS2 could go much higher unless the project is scaled back now.” – FT

Unite elects first female leader over Starmer favourite

“Sharon Graham has upset the odds to become general secretary of the Unite union in a result that could unsettle Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership of the Labour Party. The leftwinger comfortably won an election brought about by the retirement of Len McCluskey, the former general secretary. Graham, 52, beat Gerard Coyne, who was thought to be favoured by Starmer, and Steve Turner, another candidate on the left of the union. She secured 46,696 votes, beating Turner, the bookmakers’ favourite, into second on 41,833 votes. Coyne came in third place with 35,334 votes. The election of a leftwinger to run one of Labour’s largest union backers could prove awkward for Starmer.” – The Times

  • New Unite union leader to make peace with Starmer – Daily Telegraph
  • And newly-elected Unite leader to put members ahead of party politics – FT

Tom Harris: Food shortages have little to do with Brexit

“Britain is preparing itself for yet another bout of panic-buying as supermarket shoppers hoard supplies of goods they fear will be in short supply in the months ahead. Even McDonald’s has run out of milkshakes, thanks to the shortage of HGV drivers. It’s all the fault of Brexit, according to those still not resigned to our new post-EU reality. And speaking as someone who campaigned for Vote Leave, I accept they have a point. But not a particularly powerful one. It is obviously true that by ending freedom of movement, which was a mandatory part of being an EU member, immigration to the UK has dropped. And among those numbers of people no longer arriving to live and work here are individuals on whose labour we previously depended, including lorry drivers.” – Daily Telegraph

Nick Allen: Biden’s two-term dream is over

“Joe Biden is flailing. Following his parade of stumbles – verbal and physical – the fall of Kabul has proved not so much the straw, but the sledgehammer, that broke the camel’s back. Having caused a humanitarian crisis with his incompetence the president is now trying to pretend it’s not happening. Initially, he hid for days at Camp David. In a 12-minute speech on Monday he didn’t even mention Afghanistan. He seems to wish it would all just go away. His aides, it seems, are afraid to tell the emperor he has no clothes. Mr Biden will stagger on following this utter disaster but the prospect of a second term, which he very much wants, now seems remote.” – Daily Telegraph

Five ministers investigated over free Brit Awards tickets

“Five ministers are being investigated by Parliament’s sleaze watchdog after they enjoyed a free night out at the glitzy Brit Awards. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey are among the top Tories being probed for allegedly failing to reveal that they were given free tickets worth as much as £900 each to the bash. Even culture minister Caroline Dinenage is facing questions over whether or not she should have declared her attendance at the star-studded event. Science minister Amanda Solloway and Foreign Office minister James Cleverly are the other senior Government figures to have been placed under an official probe by Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone.” – Daily Mail

Extinction Rebellion demo left 120 tonnes of rubbish

“The environmental campaigners shut down major streets in the capital in October 2019 “to rebel against the world’s governments for their criminal inaction” on climate change. Nickie Aiken, Conservative MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, has now revealed that 120 tonnes of rubbish had to be removed from her constituency’s streets, costing the borough about £50,000. The former leader of City of Westminster Council said: “The disruption to local people and businesses is immeasurable. I was told by the council that last time Extinction Rebellion were here for two weeks, they cleared 120 tonnes of rubbish left behind. That added £50,000 to their costs. This is local people’s council tax.” – Daily Telegraph

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