UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said that reports about him not being in contact with his counterparts in Afghanistan and Pakistan for months ahead of the Afghanistan crisis were “not credible and deeply irresponsible.”
Raab has faced questions in recent days on whether he should have returned from holiday earlier, over emails about potential evacuees that were unanswered, the number of Afghans left behind, and his general handling of the crisis.
A report in The Sunday Times, citing an unnamed Pakistani official, said that Raab had “shown no interest” in taking calls from either country’s government in the six months before the evacuation.
Doing the rounds in the media for the first time since the accusation, Raab today suggested that he was the victim of some political blame game.
He said there had been a “team effort” across the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office to communicate with the two countries.
Raab told Sky News, “Anyone that is toddling off to The Sunday Times or any other newspaper at a time of crisis, including the evacuation which has been two weeks running, giving buck-passing briefings either at me or the FCDO is, frankly, not credible and it is deeply irresponsible.”
Raab said that the proof of the competency of his department’s handling of the crisis lay in the fact they had supported supported the evacuation of 17,000 people since April.
Pressed on exactly when he had spoken to his counterparts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Raab told LBC radio that he didn’t have the information.
Raab’s handling of the crisis has been criticised not only by the Labour Party, but also from some prominent voices within the Conservative Party.
Former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, however, described the current avalanche of criticism of Raab as “childish and pathetic.”
“A lot of the briefing against Dominic Raab is rather childish and pathetic, during the course of a crisis where you want this thing settled,” he told LBC.
“You don’t want to have a debate about whether somebody should be there or not there, as long as they’re doing their job and you want them to get on with that job.”
Raab will face a grilling from MPs tomorrow on his handling of the crisis when he appears before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, which is chaired by Afghanistan veteran MP Tom Tugendhat.
Tugendhat has already said the committee will be holding an inquiry into the crisis.
PA contributed to this report.