UK Minister's tears for Afghanistan: Defense Secretary Ben Wallace BREAKS DOWN as he admits 'some people won't get back' but vows to fly hundreds of Afghans out in the next 36 hours

 Ben Wallace choked up today as he vowed to fly hundreds of desperate Afghans out of the country within the next 36 hours - but insisted sending UK troops back in is not 'on the cards'.

The Defence Secretary was overcome with emotion as he talked about the consequences of the collapse of the Western-trained Afghan army, after the Taliban walked into Kabul and took charge of the presidential palace. 

He said the crisis had become inevitable after a deal was struck with the extremists and the US pulled out, and the focus was now on evacuating British nationals, interpreters and others who might be subject to reprisals.

But he conceded that 'some people won't get back'. 'It is sad the West has done what it has done,' he said. 'Twenty years of sacrifice.. is what it is.'  

Mr Wallace - who himself served in the military before entering politics - said he felt the issue so deeply because he was a soldier. 

The comments came amid rising fury about the dramatic developments in Afghanistan, after Joe Biden stepped up the timetable for withdrawing US troops.

Around 4,000 British nationals and eligible Afghans are thought to be in Kabul and in need of evacuation.

Some 700 UK personnel are deployed at the airport, with Mr Wallace insisting the key areas are still secure despite chaotic scenes and reports of several people being killed when they fell from aircraft. The US has 5,000 troops in place.   

In a sign of the desperation, the British ambassador Sir Laurie Bristow is believed to be helping the small team of diplomats still in the country to process the applications of those hoping to leave.

There is particular concern for the safety of Afghans who worked with British forces when they were in the country as interpreters and in other roles amid fears of reprisals if they fall into the hands of the insurgents.

Tories have accused ministers of displaying 'boredom' in their attitude towards the long-running military campaign, branding the defeat the worst foreign policy setback since Suez. 

As the drama intensified today:

  • Footage showed several apparent stowaways tumbling from planes taking off from the Kabul airport; 
  • The UN Security Council is due to meet this afternoon to consider the response to the situation with Boris Johnson urging a 'unified' stance; 
  • Dominic Raab is attending a Cobra session as he faces a backlash for staying on holiday as Afghanistan plunged into turmoil; 
  • The UK's ambassador is still in the Afghan capital as officials try to process as many applications for refuge as possible; 
  • Chevening scholars from Afghanistan could be given refuge despite being told their visas were being deferred until next year. 

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace admitted he was 'sad' at the collapse of the Western-trained Afghan army after the Taliban walked into Kabul and took charge of the presidential palace

Taliban fighters have been posing in the presidential palace in Kabul after taking charge

Taliban fighters have been posing in the presidential palace in Kabul after taking charge

There has been chaos at the airport in the capital as desperate people try to flee the country

There has been chaos at the airport in the capital as desperate people try to flee the country

Boris Johnson has agreed to recall Parliament as he faces the fury of Tory backbenchers over Britain's 'humiliation' in Afghanistan

Boris Johnson has agreed to recall Parliament as he faces the fury of Tory backbenchers over Britain's 'humiliation' in Afghanistan


Former national security adviser Lord Sedwill said it was an 'humiliating' moment for the West and warned terror groups would be 'emboldened'.

The peer told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'This is a humiliating moment for the West. 

'Afghan citizens are fearful, extremists everywhere will be emboldened, they've been quieter since the end of Islamic State - they will be emboldened.' 

The Taliban insist they are seeking a peaceful takeover of power and will not persecute those who had worked with the Afghan government or with foreign forces.

However those assurances were being treated with deep scepticism by many British MPs amid reports of threats to those who remain and their families.

Labour has called on the Government to urgently expand the resettlement scheme for Afghans to ensure that none were left behind.

Boris Johnson has agreed to recall Parliament this week as he faces the fury of Tory backbenchers over Britain's 'humiliation' in Afghanistan.

MPs will hold a five-hour debate on Wednesday – the first time that they have been called back from their summer recess since 2013.

But the move was dismissed as too little, too late now that the Taliban has already seized control – with one senior Tory calling Afghanistan's collapse 'the biggest single policy disaster' since the Suez Crisis in 1956.

The Prime Minister appeared to blame the US. He said it was 'fair to say the US decision to pull out has accelerated things, but this has in many ways been a chronicle of an event foretold ... we've known for a long time that this was the way things were going.'

Pressed on whether there was any prospect of troops returning to Kabul, Mr Wallace told Sky News: 'No, look that's not on the cards that we're going to go back.'

He added: 'The US have made itself clear that they're not intending to stay and as the framework nation that leaves us with difficult choices and I've been pretty much honest about that all the way through this process.'

On the airlift of British nationals, he added: 'The military flights are coming in and out, they've just brought in more UK soldiers.


'Border Force is joining us to make sure that we accelerate the process to get more Afghans out, which is our obligation. We flew out 370 staff and British citizens, eligible personnel yesterday and the day before and we'll continue to engage those flights.

'The next group of Afghans to come out will be 782 and we'll make sure we get them in the next 24 to 36 hours out of the country and are continuing to process those people.' 

He went on: 'My job as as defence secretary is to make sure that we protect not only the UK nationals, but those Afghans we have an obligation to, that is actually why we're in the country. For the last few weeks we've been in the country solely to process those people and to make sure we protect our officials doing that job and we'll continue to do so.'

Mr Wallace - who was a captain in the Scots Guards and saw service in Northern Ireland - told BBC Breakfast it will not be possible to get everyone out of Afghanistan, with the previous August 31 evacuation timetable now in tatters.

'With the US' removal of the framework, the military might and the speed of the Afghan government collapse, it's simply not possible for us to send small bands of troops miles into Afghanistan to find people if they're not able to be found,' he said.

'It is a deep regret that we have gone to a position we have, I haven't hidden that over the last few weeks. We are doing everything we can to get those people out.'

Asked if translators who have helped British citizens are eligible to come to the UK, he said: 'Yes, they are. People who are eligible are people who have worked for us in what we call public-facing roles, people who've worked for us but are not in public-facing roles, contractors and third parties … and any other special cases.'

Outlining the process of checking people who are being flown to the UK from Afghanistan, he added: 'We do have to make sure that some of the people we're bringing back aren't affiliated to either a terrorist organisation or the Taliban, which, I'm afraid, a very, very small number have been.

'They might not have worked for us for 10, 12, 15 years, so we have to see that they are right. We're doing our very best to make sure we do not discriminate against those people who are fully legitimate to come here.'

Challenged that the Taliban had 'won', Mr Wallace said: 'I don't know about a win, I think, I acknowledge that the Taliban are in control of the country. You don't have to be a political scientist to spot that's where we're at.'

Last night Mr Johnson vowed to work with allies to prevent Afghanistan again becoming a 'breeding ground for terrorism'.

After chairing a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee, he admitted the situation in the country was 'extremely difficult' and was 'getting more difficult'.

In an apparent admission that the West is now powerless to resist the Taliban takeover, the Prime Minister said he wanted a co-ordinated response to the coup 'in the coming months'.

He called on the international community to not 'prematurely' recognise any new government without agreement amid fears that Russian or China could unilaterally move to endorse the regime.

'We want a united position among all the like-minded, as far as we can get one, so that we do whatever we can to prevent Afghanistan lapsing back into a breeding ground for terror,' he said after meeting Team GB's Olympic heroes at an event in Wembley.


'What we're dealing with now is the very likely advent of a new regime in Kabul. We don't know exactly what kind of a regime that will be. What we want to do is make sure that we as the UK pull together our international partners, our like-minded partners, so that we deal with that regime in a concerted way.'

The Prime Minister, who yesterday held calls with Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg and the UN secretary general Antonio Guterres, said there should be meetings of Nato's North Atlantic Council and the UN Security Council as soon as possible.

But senior Tories have voiced anger at the way Afghanistan has been abandoned to its fate, 20 years after international forces entered the country.

Former defence secretary Dr Liam Fox said: 'The situation in Afghanistan has all the elements of a strategic disaster.

'A democratic government removed by military force, a Taliban-enforced brutal Islamic State and the door opening again for Al Qaeda and similar groups who will threaten our safety and security.'

Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Commons foreign affairs committee, said that the country's collapse was 'the biggest single policy disaster since' the Suez Crisis in 1956. The Tory MP, who served as an Army officer in Afghanistan, said the priority had to be to get as many people out of Kabul as possible.

'The real danger is that we are going to see every female MP murdered, we are going to see ministers strung up on street lamps,' he told BBC News.

Tobias Ellwood, a former captain in the British Army and chairman of the defence select committee, criticised the West for pulling out of Afghanistan.

Appearing on Sky News, he said: 'The world is now a little bit more dangerous because they've now taken control of the country, and the West should really hang its head in shame after abruptly abandoning Afghanistan to a civil war after two decades of effort.'

He added: 'This is not a good day for the West at all, and China will be observing things very, very closely indeed. They are already making alliances with the Taliban and glossing over the human rights atrocities that are likely to unfold.' 

MPs who want to speak at the debate will have to be in the chamber as virtual arrangements are no longer in place. Peers will also hold an emergency sitting in the Lords.

The last time MPs were recalled during summer recess was in 2013 following the use of chemical weapons in Syria.


UK Minister's tears for Afghanistan: Defense Secretary Ben Wallace BREAKS DOWN as he admits 'some people won't get back' but vows to fly hundreds of Afghans out in the next 36 hours UK Minister's tears for Afghanistan: Defense Secretary Ben Wallace BREAKS DOWN as he admits 'some people won't get back' but vows to fly hundreds of Afghans out in the next 36 hours Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 10:28 Rating: 5

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