‘Lack of leadership in the foreign office’ – Tom Tugendhat

The chair of the foreign affairs committee says there is a “lack of leadership” in the foreign office, following a revealing committee session on the department’s conduct during the Afghanistan crisis.

Tom Tugendhat released the following statement following the evidence session: 

“Today’s session left the Committee concerned about the Foreign Office’s role in the evacuation effort.

“We have seen the disintegration of a nation British troops laid down their lives to protect. In leaving, many Afghan friends and partners were abandoned. This crisis demanded, and deserved, the full attention of the Foreign Office. It seems that junior staff members and soldiers bore most of the burden, having been placed under huge pressure to make life-or-death decisions with insufficient guidance, support or oversight.

The evidence we’ve heard today points to a lack of leadership, urgency and adequate resourcing.

“It is deeply painful how badly we have let Afghanistan down.

“I would like to reiterate my thanks to Raphael Marshall. His powerful and compelling evidence has helped bring fundamental failures to light.”

Earlier in the session, the FCDO’s permanent-under secretary Sir Philip Barton came under fire after he revealed he was on holiday until 11 days after Kabul fell.

Sir Philip told the committee: “if I had my time again I would have come back from my leave earlier than I did”.