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Boris Johnson says he ‘absolutely’ has confidence in Raab despite Crete holiday

BORIS Johnson threw a protective arm around Dominic Raab this evening and insisted he “absolutely” has full confidence in the Foreign Secretary.

The PM personally backed his second-in-command against claims his luxury holiday last week distracted him from the urgent crisis in Afghanistan.

Dominic Raab leaves the Foreign Office for Downing St this afternoon looking tense

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Dominic Raab leaves the Foreign Office for Downing St this afternoon looking tenseCredit: AFP
Boris Johnson says he 'absolutely' has confidence in Raab

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Boris Johnson says he ‘absolutely’ has confidence in RaabCredit: Sky News
Mr Raab said he was tied up with "prioritising security and capacity at the airport" in Kabul

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Mr Raab said he was tied up with “prioritising security and capacity at the airport” in KabulCredit: Alamy

Mr Raab today mounted his own defence for not calling his Afghan counterpart from his five-star Crete retreat – adamant it was not a priority.

Asked whether he had full confidence in Mr Raab, the Prime Minister said: “Absolutely.

“And I can tell you that the whole of the Government has been working virtually around the clock to do what we can to sort it out, to deal with a situation that has been long in gestation and to make sure we get as many people back as possible.”

In a rare statement earlier Mr Raab hit back at those calling for him to quit or be sacked – which he’s rejected.

He said: “The whole of Government has been working tirelessly over the last week to help as many people evacuate from Afghanistan as possible.  

“The UK Government’s overriding priority has been to secure Kabul airport so that flights can leave.”

He said last Friday he was advised by his officials to ring Afghani Foreign Minister Hanif Atmar.

But he said that “this was quickly overtaken by events” and the call was delegated to a junior minister.

Mr Raab said he was tied up with “prioritising security and capacity at the airport” in Kabul.

He said: “In any event, the Afghan Foreign Minister agreed to take the call, but was unable to because of the rapidly deteriorating situation.”

The Foreign Sec stuck by his decision to decline the call to Kabul and said focusing on evacuations had led to the safe return of hundreds.

Earlier this week Defence Sec Ben Wallace said phoning an Afghan government “that was melting away” wouldn’t have made “the blindest bit of difference”.

Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said: “This simply doesn’t add up.

“It should have been an absolute priority to speak to the Afghan government and set out the immediate actions necessary to ensure the safe evacuation of Britons and Afghans.”

Desperate Afghanis climb stairs in a bid to get onto a plane at Kabul airport
Desperate Afghanis climb stairs in a bid to get onto a plane at Kabul airport
Mr Raab was on holiday in Crete in a five-star hotel
Mr Raab was on holiday in Crete in a five-star hotel
Minister for the Armed Forces, James Heappey defends Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab over failing to take a call from his Afghan counterpart

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