Afghan crisis:Dominic Raab under pressure to quit after delegating ‘rescue call’ to junior minister


UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is facing mounting pressure to resign after claims that he disappeared for more than a week while on holiday during the collapse of Afghanistan, delegating almost all duties to juniors.


The responsibility of arranging the call with the Afghan foreign ministry was then handed to a junior minister. However, it has since been revealed that the phone call never took place.


Raab’s department did not deny he asked another minister to make a call on Friday to assist the evacuation of former British military translators while he was in Crete.


It was reported on Thursday that Afghanistan's foreign ministry refused to set up the call with the junior minister, pushing it back to the next day.


This meant crucial time was lost before the Taliban took control of Kabul on Sunday, prompting a desperate scramble to evacuate thousands of Britons.


A source also revealed to the Guardian that Raab “refused to be contacted on basically anything” for more than a week, and instead directed that “everything had to go to Zac Goldsmith”. They added that Raab’s team had told civil servants “there was an incredibly high bar to getting him to look at anything while on holiday”.


Labour, the Liberal Democrats and SNP demanded Boris Johnson sack his foreign secretary if he did not decide to quit.


Raab has now become the focal point for wider political anger over the humiliating retreat from the Taliban after 20 years of military involvement and 457 UK deaths.However, Downing Street has said it has "full confidence" in Mr Raab.


The Labour party has set out a list of 18 urgent questions for the foreign secretary to answer about his trip and his department's handling of the Afghanistan crisis.


The revelation comes amid reports that three of the UK's most senior civil servants, who are in charge of the departments dealing with the evacuation from Afghanistan, are on holiday.


Sir Philip Barton, Matthew Rycroft and David Williams, who are permanent secretaries at the Foreign Office, Home Office and Ministry of Defence, are all on leave, a Times report revealed.


A government spokesperson said: "Departments across Whitehall have been working intensively at all levels in the last few days and weeks on the situation in Afghanistan.


Armed Forces Minister James Heappey told Sky News that, "no one phone call would have been decisive in changing the trajectory either for the collapse of the Afghan government, or indeed, for the acceleration of the air lift".


He added that government officials are "working their backsides off" to evacuate as many people as possible from Kabul.


Meanwhile, Labour’s Harriet Harman said the government should listening to women in Afghanistan rather than having Raab “simply talking to other male leaders”. She said it should appoint a minister responsible for liaising with Afghan women and that women should be included in any future negotiations with the Taliban.


On Thursday, Mr Raab chaired a call of G7 foreign ministers to discuss the crisis saying in a statement that the discussion covered “the gravity of the situation and the significant loss of life and internal displacement in Afghanistan over recent days”.


Raab underlined the importance of the Taliban holding to their commitments to ensure the protection of civilians and added that he was deeply concerned by reports of violent reprisals in parts of Afghanistan. He adding that the G7 “are continuing efforts to do everything possible to evacuate vulnerable persons from Kabul airport and call on all parties to continue to facilitate that”.


The government has announced Britain will take up to 20,000 people wanting to exit Afghanistan as part of its resettlement scheme, with 5,000 due to be accepted in the next 12 months.