Dominic Raab launches furious fight back against critics as he blasts ‘deeply irresponsible’ anonymous ‘buck passing’ briefings against him as allies fear he faces ‘fast and brutal’ fall from grace at reshuffle
The Foreign Secretary has been widely tipped for the sack at Boris Johnson‘s next Cabinet reshuffle over his handling of the UK’s withdrawal from Kabul.
Mr Raab has been the subject of numerous anonymous briefings in recent weeks as his opponents claimed he had been slow to respond to the deteriorating situation in the country.
But the Tory heavyweight has now hit back, as he said those launching attacks against him are ‘not credible’.
He slammed the timing of the briefings, saying it was ‘deeply irresponsible’ to speak anonymously to newspapers during the Kabul evacuation efforts.
He also insisted the response to the crisis had been a ‘team effort’ across Whitehall after critics had singled out the Foreign Office for failings.
His comments came as his allies said they fear Mr Raab faces a ‘fast and brutal’ fall from grace if he is sacked.
Dominic Raab today launched a furious fight back against his critics as he accused them of ‘buck passing’ during the Afghanistan crisis
The Foreign Secretary has been widely tipped for the sack at Boris Johnson’s next Cabinet reshuffle over his handling of the UK’s withdrawal from Kabul
A reshuffle is not thought to be imminent but reports have suggested that Michael Gove, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, is being lined up to replace Mr Raab.
One of Mr Raab’s allies suggested to The Times that the Foreign Secretary had failed to build support among colleagues.
‘I think when a fall from grace happens, it’s fast and it’s brutal,’ they said.
‘People forget what politics is about. It’s about getting people to help you do the heavy lifting. You saw this with Theresa May. The people who are really successful are the ones who can motivate a team.
‘There’s a whole load of people in politics who think that spending time talking to colleagues in the tea room is below them. It’s not regarded as important work.’
A senior Government source had told the newspaper yesterday that they believed Mr Raab will be ‘toast’ in the next shake up of Mr Johnson’s top team.
Mr Raab has been accused of being slow to engage with the Afghanistan crisis and was criticised for failing to return early from a family holiday in Crete in the days leading up to the fall of Kabul.
A senior official in the Pakistani government claimed to the Sunday Times that Mr Raab did not make a single phone call to his Afghan or Pakistani counterparts in the six months before the crisis.
The official said Mr Raab ‘just didn’t care’ because he ‘thought Afghanistan was yesterday’s war’.
Mr Raab launched a counteroffensive this morning as he told Sky News: ‘First of all, anyone who is toddling off to the Sunday Times or any other newspaper at a time of crisis, including the evacuation, we have seen it two weeks running, giving buck passing briefings either at me or the FCDO is frankly not credible and it is deeply irresponsible.
‘I have spoken for example to Foreign Minister Qureshi regularly, obviously more intensively given the evacuation, but we have absolutely been on this and you can see that we have been on this.’
He added: ‘I totally reject that. Again, I come back to this thing, those giving anonymous briefings to newspapers during the evacuation I’m afraid have very little credibility and it is pretty obvious, transparent buck passing.’
The Foreign Office has been accused of leaving hundreds of emails from people stuck in Afghanistan unopened during the evacuation operation.
But Mr Raab suggested many of the emails were actually the responsibility of the Ministry of Defence and the Home Office.
He said: ‘The FCDO was set up, up and running, before the Arap scheme (Afghan relocations and assistance policy) had an MOD online portal.
‘When the Home Secretary announced the resettlement scheme, again we got a lot of emails, a surge of emails, when they set up a bespoke hotline, that eased some of the burden.
‘So we were getting a lot of cases coming through that needed to be sifted and triaged on, we did that as best we could.
‘But most of those, the two email accounts people are talking about are the Arap cases which were led by the MOD, not by the FCDO, and also the special cases which ultimately was a Home Office responsibility. But it was a team effort.’