Ben Wallace defends Dominic Raab for failing to make phone call
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The Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has been defended on Radio 4 by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace amid reports Mr Raab neglected to make a phone call to Afghan officials to secure the transport of at-risk translators. Mr Raab is under the spotlight for not returning from a holiday on the Greek island of Crete as Taliban fighters swept through Afghanistan last week. Ben Wallace came to the defence of the Foreign Secretary on Thursday, telling Today programme host Martha Kearney that the call “wouldn’t have made a blind bit of difference.”
Mr Wallace told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Last Friday the Afghan Government was melting away quicker than ice.
“And a phone call to an Afghan minister at that moment in time would have not made a difference.”
He added: “Last Friday we what we were absolutely worried about and were unsure about was whether the airport would stay open.
“That was at the front of everybody’s minds, without a functioning airport we were going to nobody out, no matter how many phone calls we made to a disappearing government.”
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“You can speculate over whether the phone call should have been made but it wouldn’t have made a blind bit of difference,” added the Defence Secretary.
However, the words in support of Mr Raab from his cabinet colleague may just have added fuel to the fire according to ITV Political Editor Robert Peston.
Mr Peston argued on Twitter that the remarks made by Mr Wallace placed a further spotlight on the Foreign Secretary’s judgement during the early stages of the Taliban takeover.
He wrote: “I’m not sure @BWallaceMP helped @DominicRaab just now on @BBCr4today.
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“When saying that it would not have made any practical difference if the Foreign Secretary had, in fact, called his Afghanistan counterpart on Friday, a call that @DailyMailUK says he delegated while on the beach in Crete.
“The defence secretary says the Afghanistan government was collapsing too fast and that the only thing that mattered was keeping the airport open against uncertain odds.
“So if the defence sec was clear on Friday that the game was up, it is even more difficult for Raab to justify not returning from holiday till the early hours on Monday.
“The foreign secretary’s judgement is in question and his position is by no means secure.”
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Earlier this week Mr Raab admitted “in retrospect” he would not have gone on holiday amid the Afghan crisis.
“We didn’t predict that we would be doing this on this scale because of the Taliban takeover,” he told BBC Breakfast on Tuesday.
“But look, in retrospect of course I wouldn’t have gone on holiday if I had known that would be the case.
“Equally, after 18 months and two years of a very gruelling, demanding schedule, I think it is right that people in those positions try and take some leave, but we are always ready, I’m always ready, to come back.
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