Dominic Raab was grilled by MPs this afternoon over the UK’s exit from Afghanistan, which saw the foreign secretary be accused yet again of presiding over “the single biggest foreign policy failing since [the] Suez [crisis of 1956]”.

Early on in the two-hour session, Mr Raab yielded there had been intelligence failings which led the UK to erroneously believe Kabul “would not fall in 2021”. He also said that only a “steady deterioration” of the situation was expected once troops left in August.

“It was unlikely Kabul would fall this year. That was the central assessment,” Mr Raab said, adding he wanted to make it “clear” that this view was shared by other NATO allies.

Asked how many people, that he knew of, were left behind in the operation, Mr Raab said he could “not be confident at all” in the number of British citizens still stranded. Pushed to specify a figure, he eventually conceded it was likely “in the low hundreds”.

When the session turned to his Crete holiday, Mr Raab declined to give further details about the timing of his trip, labelling the “party-political” line of questioning a “fishing expedition”.

“I think many would think that if all military leave was cancelled on 23 July, it is a bad idea for yourself, the prime minister and several other officials in the FCDO, the Home Office and the MoD to take breaks at that time,” the SNP’s Stewart Malcolm McDonald later said.

Key Points

UK intelligence suggested Kabul would not fall ‘this year,’ says Raab
Foreign secretary dismisses holiday questions as ‘party-political’
Raab admits he does not know how many people left in Kabul
MPs ask Raab if Queen ‘in danger’ due to portrait being left behind
British councils ‘scrambling’ to meet needs of Afghans
UK will not recognise Taliban as Afghan government