MPs broke with parliamentary convention on Wednesday to applaud an emotional speech by senior Conservative Tom Tugendhat, as the Commons held an emergency debate on Afghanistan.
Tugendhat, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee who served in Afghanistan as a soldier, said of the fall of the country to the Talban: “This doesn’t have to be defeat, but at the moment it damn well feels like it.”
He told the Commons: “Like many veterans this last week has been on that has seen me struggle through anger and grief and rage.
“The feeling of abandonment, of not just a country but the sacrifice that my friends made.
“I’ve watched good men go into the earth, taking with them a part of me, a part of all of us.
“This week has torn open some of those wounds, left them raw, left us all hurting.”
MPs listened in silence, in contrast to the earlier more argumentative tone of the debate, as Tugendhat criticised Joe Biden for appearing to blame Afghan soldiers for failing to stop the Taliban.
“To see their commander in chief call into the question the courage of men I fought with, to claim that they ran is shameful,” he said.
“Those who have not fought for the colours they fly should be careful about criticising those who have.”
Defending the American withdrawal earlier this week, the US president said: “The Afghan military gave up, sometimes without trying to fight.”
Opening the Commons debate, Boris Johnson said it was an “illusion” to think Britain alone could have prevented the collapse of Afghanistan after the US withdrew its forces.
The prime minister also denied the government had been unprepared for the Taliban takeover at the weekend.
Overnight the government announced plans to resettle 20,000 vulnerable Afghans – particularly women and girls – with 5,000 arriving in the first 12 months.
But the plan drew sharp criticism from some MPs that it was not generous enough