“I think history will judge: 17,000 people given safe passage is without precedent”

Dominic Raab, BBC Breakfast

August 31, 2021

Facts

Then Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab suggested that the number of people evacuated from Afghanistan had never been reached before. 

17,000 people were brought from Afghanistan to the UK between April and August 2021. 

As Channel 4 Fact Check pointed out, this is not unprecedented, even in British history. 

The evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940 saw 338,000 Allied troops rescued from northern France having been surrounded by German forces. The operation took eight days.

In 1940, some 24,600 people were evacuated from the Channel Islands to mainland Britain over fears of an imminent German invasion.

In 1990, more than 170,000 Indians were airlifted from Kuwait after it was invaded by Iraq. The operation was carried out by Air India and overseen by the country’s foreign minister.

The following year, the US military evacuated 20,000 troops from the Philippines in a single month following the eruption of Mount Pinatubo.

And even in the Afghanistan evacuation which just ended, America’s record surpasses the UK’s.

On a single day last week, the US military brought 19,000 people out of the country – more than the 17,000 Britain evacuated through the entire mission.

Channel 4 Fact Check in its excellent analysis judged that the foreign secretary’s claim was “not unprecedented – even in British history. The evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940 saw 338,000 Allied troops rescued from northern France having been surrounded by German forces. The operation took eight days.” 

Verdict

Dominic Raab’s claim was self-serving, wrong and devoid of historical knowledge or context.

We sent this analysis to Dominic Raab’s office to give him an opportunity to respond, but received no acknowledgement or response. 

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