Home » Tobias Ellwood: I Got It Wrong on Afghanistan Clip, Says Conservative MP
Afghanistan Asia Central Asia Politics UK

Tobias Ellwood: I Got It Wrong on Afghanistan Clip, Says Conservative MP

A senior Tory has expressed regret for posting a video in which he said Afghanistan had been “transformed” under the Taliban.

Speaking to TalkTV’s Piers Morgan Uncensored, Tobias Ellwood said he “got it wrong” and had subsequently deleted the clip from Twitter.

He had initially tweeted the video during a trip to Helmand province.

Mr Ellwood now faces a motion of no confidence in his position as chair of the Commons Defence Committee.

But the motion, signed by four committee members – Conservatives Mark Francois and Richard Drax, and Labour’s Kevan Jones and Derek Twigg, can not be voted on until the Commons returns from its summer break in September.

In his TalkTV interview, the Bournemouth East MP said the days after he posted the widely-criticised video had been his “most miserable” as an MP.

In the film, Mr Ellwood said corruption in the country was falling and security had improved.

He praised the appearance of solar panels in Afghanistan and noted that the country’s opium trade had “all but disappeared”.

He also urged the UK to “re-engage” with Afghanistan diplomatically and argued that re-opening the British embassy would be a way to “incrementally” improve women’s rights.

Fellow defence committee member Mark Francois called the video “utterly bizarre” and accused it of “lauding the Taliban’s management of the country”.

‘Very sorry’

Speaking to the BBC, Fawzia Koofi, the first ever female deputy speaker of the Afghan parliament, said Mr Ellwood’s comments showed ignorance of how restricted life had become for Afghan women.

Asked about the video on TalkTV, Mr Ellwood said: “It’s important to put your hand up and acknowledge errors, however well intentioned.

“I stand up, I speak my mind. I try and find solutions especially on the international stage, and I’m very, very sorry that my reflection of my visit could have been much better worded and have been taken out of context.”

Downing Street said the views expressed in the now-deleted video were “not an assessment that the UK nor the prime minister agrees with at all”.

Asked whether Mr Ellwood was still fit to lead the defence committee, Mr Sunak’s spokesman said: “I think that is first and foremost a decision for parliamentarians themselves and not one for the prime minister to seek to influence.”

In February Mr Ellwood said the UK’s withdrawal from Afghanistan was “a dark chapter” for the UK, and the defence committee which he chairs warned that the country was again becoming a haven for terrorists.

In 2001, following the 9/11 attacks, US-led troops – including British forces – invaded Afghanistan and ousted the Taliban government.

Twenty years later, America and its allies, including the UK, pulled out of the country – leading to the sudden collapse of the Western-backed Afghan government and the resurgence of the Taliban.

Britain’s 20-year military presence in Afghanistan cost nearly £30bn and the lives of 457 British military personnel.

Source : BBC