Boris Johnson: It’s ‘unfair’ to say government was ‘unprepared’
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Downing Street, and in particular Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, has come under huge scrutiny throughout the last couple of weeks over the UK’s response to the escalating crisis in Afghanistan. Chancellor Rishi Sunak also came under the spotlight earlier this month after it was reported the Prime Minister threatened to demote him after Mr Sunak wrote a letter urging Mr Johnson to ease foreign travel restrictions. This was seen as a rare act of defiance as well as undermining Mr Johnson’s authority as relations between Number 10 and senior Government ministers come under the microscope.
The UK has been dragged into a new migrant crisis argument, with reports Downing Street has become increasingly frustrated at Home Secretary Priti Patel’s inability to take control of the numerous small boats crossing the Channel.
Brexit Britain faces being dragged into a row with the European Union over the Northern Ireland Protocol when Lord Frost reopens talks with bloc counterparts as both sides desperately attempt to resolve several trade issues.
In the weeks leading up to the COP26 summit in November, COP President Alok Sharma is also facing mounting criticism over the Government’s beleaguered climate policy.
Ministers on the far right in the Conservative Party reportedly fear a significant tax hike will have to be enforced to pay for the Government’s net-zero plans.
Mr Johnson’s approval ratings also appear to be struggling in a sign the UK public could be turning against the Prime Minister just under two years after he secured a massive victory in the 2019 general election.
Politico recently ran an aggregate for the polls asking: “Do you approve or disapprove of the overall job performance?”
More than half (57 percent) disapproved of the Prime Minister, compared to just 43 percent who approved.
Now Politico has reported he will let the rest of this troubled year play out and then reshuffle his Cabinet once his current ministers have had a chance to deal with all the criticism that could come their way.
The politics news website has claimed “there are some in Whitehall who think the PM could pull the trigger sooner”.
A Tory MP has told Playbook “Government whips were ringing around ministers and likely promotion targets this weekend to check in”.
While it’s reported there are no suggestions there have been any discussions over a reshuffle, “those receiving the calls certainly felt the timing was interesting”.
The reports of a possible Cabinet reshuffle come with the Prime Minister expected to ask US President Joe Biden to extend the Kabul evacuation deadline as ministers become fearful the Taliban would also have to agree to more time for people to flee.
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James Heappey, the armed forces minister, admitted “when the US go, the mission has to come to an end” in Afghanistan.
He said the evacuation mission is “fundamentally underpinned by a US presence”, and it would have to end without American troops.
The Prime Minister and Mr Biden will speak during the G7 summit tomorrow (Tuesday) as Downing Street presses for US troops to remain in the country until past August 31 to secure Kabul’s airport for rescue flights.
Mr Heappey told Sky News: “Whether or not the US can be persuaded to stay is a matter for the Prime Minister tomorrow in the G7 meeting after the initial overtures made by both the Foreign Secretary and the Defence Secretary in the days previous.
“But the conversation with the Taliban will then follow, and the Taliban will have a choice: they can either seek to engage with the international community and show that they want to be a part of the international system, they want to be engaged in international diplomacy, or they can turn around and say there is no opportunity for an extension.
“I think everybody has to be clear that this is not just a discussion that happens between G7 leaders tomorrow, it is a discussion which happens with the Taliban.”
The armed forces minister admitted it won’t be possible to evacuate all of those impacted, as there are still “thousands more” people the UK wishes to evacuate, including British nationals.
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