Left Behind: Boris Faces Backlash as Britons Stranded in Afghanistan

EASTBURY, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 26: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) walks with Vice Admiral Ben Key (L) as he arrives for a visit at Northwood Headquarters, the British Armed Forces Permanent Joint Headquarters on August 26, 2021, in Eastbury, northwest of London, England. The Prime Minister visited Northwood …
Adrian Dennis-WPA Pool/Getty Images

Boris Johnson’s government has been criticised for leaving behind British citizens and Afghan allies as the last evacuation flights depart Kabul, marking the end of a 20-year campaign.

In what is being characterised as the largest evacuation effort since the Second World War, some 15,000 people were evacuated by British forces from Kabul over the past two weeks over the course of President Joe Biden’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan.

In total, some 5,000 British nationals, alongside approximately 8,000 Afghan allies and 2,200 children were brought to the United Kingdom under Operation Pitting, Sky News reported.

Yet Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come under fire for leaving behind British citizens and more Afghans who worked alongside the British military to fend for themselves under the Taliban’s radical Islamist regime.

One Briton who was left behind by his government is former British soldier Ben Slater, who has been assisting the government get other people out of the war-torn country. Government officials are alleged to have made a mistake on the paperwork required to evacuate him from Afghanistan.

“We’ve been let down massively. I’m still waiting,” Slater told The Telegraph, adding: “I am still helping the government that let me down, and I will continue to do so, and we will pick up anybody we can on the way.”

The former British soldier said that he is expecting the Taliban to take revenge upon him and his 50 staff, who are Afghan women eligible for the Britain’s special cases refugee programme.

“Thus far I’ve helped 67 do the impossible and could not help my own people yet,” he said. “Me leaving them behind in my eyes is murder. I can’t live with that.”

Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter, who believes the Taliban are honourable “country boys” who “want an Afghanistan that is inclusive for all”, claimed on Saturday that there will be some commercial flights continuing to fly to the United Kingdom from Kabul.

However, he admitted that they will be “very few now” that the Army has left the country, adding that it was “heartbreaking” that the government failed to rescue everyone from the supposedly inclusive Taliban.

A Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) spokesman claimed: “We always cautioned that the nature of the security situation in Afghanistan meant that we would not be able to evacuate everyone we wanted to.”

They did not mention that Prime Minister Boris Johnson repeatedly told Parliament that “there is no military path to victory for the Taliban” in Afghanistan as recently as July, or that the withdrawal date was set by the West a substantial amount of time ago regardless.

Former Afghanistan veteran and Tory chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Tom Tugendhat said: “I’m extremely sad about this and I very much hope that it might go beyond the August deadline but we found out a few days ago that it wasn’t, so I was expecting it.

“It still leaves me extremely sad that so many of my friends have been left behind.”

The opposition Labour Party has accused the government of being “missing in action” during the withdrawal efforts.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “It is unconscionable that there was no strategy in place to get all the British nationals and Afghans we owed a debt to out,” adding the government has known “for 18 months that this moment was coming.”

Aside from failing to evacuate all British citizens from the country, Boris Johnson’s government has possibly endangered many Afghan allies in the country.

Last week, it was revealed that as embassy staff fled the UK embassy in Kabul they reportedly left documents containing the names of staffers and job applicants “scattered on the ground” for the Taliban to find.

The Prime Minister, for his part, has tried to strike an optimistic tone, saying on Sunday: “UK troops and officials have worked around the clock to a remorseless deadline in harrowing conditions.

“They have expended all the patience and care and thought they possess to help people in fear for their lives.

“They’ve seen at first hand barbaric terrorist attacks on the queues of people they were trying to comfort, as well as on our American friends.

“They didn’t flinch. They kept calm. They got on with the job.”

Mr Johnson has also attempted to defend the 20-year war, writing to Her Majesty’s Armed Forces: “Our purpose in Afghanistan was simple — to protect the United Kingdom from harm — and you succeeded in that central mission.

“In the last 20 years, not a single terrorist attack has been launched from Afghan soil against the UK or any other Western country.”

Many have warned that Afghanistan will once again become a haven for terrorism despite the failed nation-building attempts made by the American and British forces, however.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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