Dominic Raab will be ‘toast’ at Boris Johnson’s next Cabinet reshuffle because of his handling of the UK’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, it was claimed today.
The Foreign Secretary is increasingly being tipped to be axed amid an escalating Whitehall blame game.
Allies of Mr Raab believe he is being lined up by other departments as the ‘fall guy’ after Britain completed its chaotic exit from Kabul.
Mr Raab is expected to launch a fight back and defend his record when he faces a grilling in front of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee on Wednesday this week.
Foreign Office Minister James Cleverly defended his boss this morning as he insisted the department had ‘sprang quickly’ into action.
Mr Cleverly also admitted the Government has no idea how many Afghan citizens were left behind who are eligible to come to the UK and said Britain is a ‘long way’ from offering diplomatic recognition to the new Taliban regime.
A senior Government source claimed Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, will be ‘toast’ at Boris Johnson’s next Cabinet reshuffle
Mr Johnson is not expected to imminently shake up his top team but reports have suggested that Mr Raab could be replaced by Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove
One senior Government source told The Times: ‘I think he is toast in the next reshuffle. It is a poorly led organisation with a control freak in charge who won’t delegate anything. Officials are terrified of him.’
Allies of Mr Raab hit back and said it is ‘laughable’ to try to pin all of the Government’s Afghanistan-related failures on the Foreign Secretary.
Pointing the finger at other departments, they said the Ministry of Defence had failed to accurately predict how quickly the Taliban would seize control of the country while the Home Office had been slow to finalise the Afghan resettlement scheme.
Mr Cleverly defended Mr Raab and the department this morning, telling Times Radio about the negative briefings: ‘I don’t know where that’s coming from. The organisation that I see really sprang quickly into an activity that was at a scale and nature that was unprecedented.’
Asked directly whether Mr Raab was a ‘control freak’, Mr Cleverly said: ‘No, that’s not true. It’s not true.’
On the suggestion Mr Raab was ‘toast’ in the next reshuffle, the minister told LBC Radio: ‘Government departments and ministers – including Dominic – worked incredibly hard, we worked together, we were able to get out over 15,000 people in those last couple of weeks, because all bits of Government had a role to play and discharged those roles and those functions incredibly, incredibly professionally.
‘That includes Dominic, as well. None of us could have done it on our own, we could only do it working collaboratively, that’s what happened.
‘It was a brutal, horrible, incredibly difficult time and yet – as I say – we were able to evacuate over 15,000 people and that is a herculean task.’
A Cabinet reshuffle is not believed to be imminent. Reports have suggested that Mr Raab could eventually be replaced by Michael Gove, the Minister for the Cabinet Office.
The Foreign Office is increasingly under fire over its response to the Afghanistan crisis.
Today it was claimed the department had been slow to talk to the countries surrounding Afghanistan about setting up safe routes for refugees.
One minister told The Telegraph: ‘The diplomatic effort has been slightly flat-footed. We should have been further down this road by now.
The UK completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan at the weekend, with the US due to complete its exit by Joe Biden’s deadline of August 31
‘There’s a big job of work to be done in the region and it’s frustrating it’s not more advanced.’
A senior Tory MP told the newspaper that the Foreign Office is ‘seen as a basket case’.
Mr Raab faced criticism earlier this month after he delayed his return from a luxury break at a five-star resort in Crete as the situation in Afghanistan deteriorated.
He insisted last week that he was not ‘lounging around on the beach’ while Kabul fell and was ‘engaged from a hotel room’.
However, Mr Raab admitted that ‘with the benefit of hindsight I wouldn’t have gone away’.
Approximately 15,000 people were evacuated from Afghanistan by UK troops over the course of nearly two weeks in Operation Pitting which came to a close at the weekend as Britain completed its withdrawal.
But ministers have admitted that they were not able to rescue everyone who is eligible to come to Britain amid fears those remaining in the country could be targeted for reprisals by the Taliban.
The group has given assurances that safe passage will be granted to people trying to leave after the US finishes its withdrawal on August 31.
But many senior figures in the West fear the Taliban will fail to live up to the pledge, with Mr Cleverly saying he is ‘sceptical’.
‘Well, we have always said, I think the Prime Minister has said very recently, that we will judge the Taliban by their actions,’ he said.
‘They have made certain commitments about not taking out reprisals on individuals, about facilitating exit.
‘Obviously we are sceptical about those commitments but we will continue working with them to an extent, based on their conduct, to try and facilitate that further evacuation and repatriation effort.’
Asked how many people were left behind, Mr Cleverly told Sky News: ‘Well, that’s an impossible number to put a figure on. We had three methods by which, or vehicles by which, people could leave Afghanistan.
‘Obviously British nationals, we have a much better idea of how many British nationals were in Afghanistan. The vast, vast bulk of British nationals have now left Afghanistan.
‘The Arap scheme, those Afghans, interpreters and others, who had worked directly for us and with us, have their scheme.
‘But also we extended to Afghans who were at risk of reprisals and there was no set number of people in that third group.’
Mr Cleverly said that the Taliban ‘want to be treated like a legitimate government’ but ‘there’s a long way to go before we might consider that’.
Source by www.dailymail.co.uk