Afghanistan: Boris Johnson criticised over crisis - as PM says Taliban will be judged on ‘actions not words’

Boris Johnson has come under fire from senior Tories over the Afghan collapse

Boris Johnson has faced fierce criticism from senior Tories as MPs returned to Westminster for an emergency debate on the fall of Afghanistan.

In a packed Commons chamber, the Prime Minister defended the final pull-out of British troops, saying it was an “illusion” to think the international military mission could have continued without US forces.

Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street in central London on August 18, 2021 ahead of an extraordinary session of parliament to discuss the collapse of the Afghan government (Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty)

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At a glance: 5 key points

  • Boris Johnson said the UK was doubling humanitarian aid to Afghanistan to £260 million while the immediate priority was to evacuate the remaining UK nationals and those Afghans who had worked with the British in the country
  • Johnson said the government had so far secured the safe return of 306 UK nationals and 2,052 Afghans, with a further 2,000 Afghan applications completed and many more being processed
  • Johnson added that ministers had considered the possible options when the US announced its intention to withdraw, but they came up against the “hard reality” that there was no will among allies to continue without the Americans
  • He faced cries of disbelief when he denied the government had been unprepared for the lightning takeover by the Taliban which saw the Western-backed government of President Ashraf Ghani collapse in just days
  • Theresa May said she found it “incomprehensible and worrying” that the UK had been unable to put together an alternative alliance to sustain the Afghan government

What’s been said

“The West could not continue this US-led mission, a mission conceived and executed in support of America, without American logistics, without US air power and without American might.

“I really think that it is an illusion to believe that there is appetite amongst any of our partners for a continued military presence or for a military solution imposed by Nato in Afghanistan. That idea ended with the combat mission in 2014.”

Boris Johnson said


It is feared the lives of those who worked against the Taliban in Afghanistan are now in danger following the extremist group’s takeover of the country.

Boris Johnson has since promised that up to 5,000 Afghans can seek refuge in the UK this year, with up to 20,000 settled in the longer-term.

The Taliban held their first press conference on Tuesday, saying that it would guarantee the safety of those who worked with foreign governments and would uphold women’s rights under “Islamic law” but analysts, however, have expressed scepticism over these promises and warn that Afghanistan could once again become a hotbed for terrorism.