Wyre MP says it is 'in the Taliban's interest to keep the country open' as civilians flee in Afghanistan

Defence secretary and Wyre and Preston North MP Ben Wallace today said it was “in the Taliban’s interest to keep the country open” and said Boris Johnson would try and seek an extension to evacuation efforts from Afghanistan.

Monday, 23rd August 2021, 11:50 am
Updated Monday, 23rd August 2021, 11:52 am
MP Ben Wallace

It comes after Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen warned efforts continuing past the end of the month would be a “red line” and would “provoke a reaction”.

Mr Wallace said the Kabul effort is “down to hours now, not weeks” as he conceded the UK’s involvement in Afghanistan will end when the US leaves – but told reporters in Fort George, near Inverness: “The Prime Minister is, obviously at the G7, going to try and raise the prospect of seeing if the United States will extend.

“It’s really important for people to understand the United States have over 6,000 people in Kabul airport and when they withdraw that will take away the framework … and we will have to go as well.

“I don’t think there is any likelihood of staying on after the United States. If their timetable extends even by a day or two, that will give us a day or two more to evacuate people.”

Shaheen said any extension on the US’s self-imposed August 31 deadline would mean “they are extending occupation” and said: “It will create mistrust...”