“What is not true is to say that the UK Government was unprepared or did not forsee this, because it was certainly part of our planning”

Boris Johnson, House of Commons

August 18, 2021

Facts

In his opening statement to Parliament on Afghanistan on August 18th 2021, Boris Johnson claimed that the UK government was not “unprepared” for the withdrawal from Afghanistan, as it “was certainly part of our planning”. 

He added: “The very difficult logistical operation for the withdrawal of UK nationals has been under preparation for many months Mr Speaker, and I can tell the house that the decision to commission the emergency handling centre at the airport took place two weeks ago.” 

Just two days earlier, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said:  “Everyone has been surprised by the scale and the pace at which the Taliban have taken over in Afghanistan. And that’s a lesson that we’ve all got to learn from.”

Over a month earlier, Johnson had said: “There is no military path to victory for the Taliban”, adding: “I do not believe that the Taliban are guaranteed the kind of victory that we sometimes read about.”

Verdict 

It is impossible to reconcile the statement from the Prime Minister with his own statement in the Commons the previous month. As so often, Boris Johnson was making claims about his government which flatly contradicted statements already made by members of his government, including himself. Johnson’s misleading comments remain on the Commons record in defiance of the Ministerial Code

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