Boris Johnson’s claim the “overwhelming majority” of people eligible for evacuation to the UK have made it out of Afghanistan has not gone down well with MPs.
Defence secretary Ben Wallace confirmed on Friday that the UK has now entered its final stage of the evacuation process, four days before the deadline for all foreign troops to have left Afghanistan.
Speaking to Sky News, Wallace has said nearly 14,000 British nationals and Afghans were rescued since mid-August, and that only the remaining 1,000 people in the airfield will be processed before the UK troops return home.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has promised that the UK will use “every hour” left to evacuate people from Afghanistan as well.
But some parliamentarians fear thousands of eligible people are being left behind.
Labour MP Chris Bryant tweeted: “From conversations with Labour colleagues and from my own experience with my constituents, I find it very difficult to believe the PM when he says that we have already evacuated ‘the vast majority’ of Afghans who stood by us, let alone the many 1000s of extremely vulnerable.”
Fellow Labour MP Andy Slaughter also tweeted: “From our caseload of over 100 families I can say that the majority of eligible Afghans have not been evacuated. So this is just a bare-faced and cynical lie.”
Labour MP and shadow minister for domestic violence, Jess Phillips, claimed: “Out of hundreds only four we’ve heard from have made it out.
“All who’ve worked with UK/US in one way or another.”
Labour MP Sarah Jones also attacked the prime minister’s claim, tweeting: “I don’t see how that is possibly the case when all but two of my cases are still in Afghanistan and I know many MPs are in a similar position.”
Conservative backbencher Tom Tugendhat took aim at the government too, and criticised their decision to end evacuations within hours.
He tweeted: “The military have done an amazing job but this means many – including my interpreter – will not get out.
“I’m not giving up but my anger and shame for those we’ve left behind to be hunted by the Taliban is growing.”
It’s believed Afghan allies who have aided the western efforts against the Taliban over the last two decades will be first on the militants’ hit list the moment foreign military forces leave on August 31.
The defence secretary himself has repeatedly confirmed: “The sad fact is not every single one will get out.”
He has also warned that the threat of another attack, following the two deadly explosions on Thursday, is only increasing as time presses on.
It’s clear from reporters outside Kabul airport that huge crowds remain, hoping to be evacuated.
According to LA Times’ journalist Nabih Bulos, there were still “gargantuan queues” of people who are eligible for UK resettlement outside Baron Hotel on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the prime minister has come under fire for a video he posted on Friday praising the work the UK military has carried out to help with evacuations.
Accompanied by relatively upbeat music, Johnson said the UK was helping “all” of those who have assisted British efforts in recent years. He did not mention the twin bombings of Thursday which saw at least 90 civilians killed and 13 US army personnel.