Watch: Moment Raab fumes at Starmer over Crete holiday criticism
This is the moment foreign secretary Dominic Raab fumes at Sir Keir Starmer after being criticised for holidaying in Crete during the fall of Afghanistan.
Raab angrily shouted at Starmer during an emergency debate in Parliament over the crisis in Afghanistan, which was effectively conquered by the Taliban on Sunday after they captured the capital Kabul.
Starmer had initially focused on Boris Johnson’s holiday in Somerset, but turned his attention to Raab after he appeared to ask: “What would you do differently?”
“I wouldn’t stay on holiday while Kabul was falling,” Starmer quipped. Raab responded by shouting at the Labour leader.
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Johnson and Raab – the UK’s foreign policy figureheads – both went on holiday on Saturday, as the crisis in Afghanistan was reaching its height.
It has been reported that as Kabul fell on Sunday, Raab was relaxing on a beach.
The Daily Mail has also reported he was staying at a five-star hotel which describes itself as a “sparkling boutique resort for the privileged and perceptive”.
Johnson and Raab returned on Sunday, with Raab claiming on Tuesday he was “caught by surprise”.
Starmer launched his attack by comparing Johnson and Raab to Sir Laurie Bristow, the British ambassador to Afghanistan, “who personally processed the paperwork for those that needed to flee. He is still there and we thank him and his staff.
“The prime minister’s response to the Taliban arriving at the gates of Kabul was to go on holiday. No sense of the gravity of the situation, no leadership to drive international efforts for the evacuation.”
A sheepish-looking Johnson sat with his head down, while Raab asked what Starmer would do differently.
“I wouldn’t stay on holiday while Kabul was falling. There are numerous examples of leaders on both sides of the House who have come back immediately at a time of crisis.”
Raab, who earlier this week denied “lounging all day on the beach”, then angrily shouted and pointed at Starmer before the Labour leader continued: “The foreign secretary shouts now but he stayed on holiday while our mission in Afghanistan was disintegrating.
“He didn’t even to speak to ambassadors in the region as Kabul fell to the Taliban. Let that sink in. Let that sink in.
“You cannot co-ordinate an international response from the beach. A dereliction of duty by the prime minister and the foreign secretary, a government totally unprepared for the scenario that it had 18 months to prepare for.”
Johnson himself, after being questioned by Labour backbencher Angela Eagle, had earlier refused to say why he went on holiday on Saturday.
Raab later clashed with Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader.
The foreign secretary, as he did with Starmer, jeered across the chamber at Blackford.
“I know he’s trying to wind me up,” Blackford said, “but when the rest of us were doing what we [could] over the course of the last few days, the foreign secretary was lying on a sun bed, so I’m not going to take lectures from someone like him”.
Watch: Raab denies ‘lounging’ on beach during Taliban takeover