Nandy slapped down over double standards on Afghanistan: ‘How many times did you say it?!’

Nandy skewered over hypocrisy claiming Raab ignored Afghanistan

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Lisa Nandy attacked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and claimed the only time he had discussed Afghanistan was during the Government’s decision to cut foreign aid from 0.7 percent of GDP to 0.5 percent earlier this year. Ms Nandy said the Government were repeatedly warned about the issues in Afghanistan spiralling out of control during the US and UK withdrawal from the region. But Tory backbencher Alicia Kearns quickly pointed out Ms Nandy’s attacks were moot as she questioned whether the shadow minister herself had discussed the issue of Afghanistan at the dispatch box.

Speaking during the House of Commons debate on Afghanistan, Ms Nandy said: “Where is the message from the United Kingdom that [Afghans] are not alone?

“When the Prime Minister took office two years ago we led the world in development assistance.

“But even now, after the Taliban have taken control, there is no urgency or seriousness about the humanitarian crisis that confronts us.

“Can we be honest, it is not honest to claim to be doubling aid to Afghanistan when just a few months ago it was cut in half.

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“[Dominic Raab] should remember it, Mr Speaker, the only statement he’s ever made to this house on Afghanistan was when he came to tell us that he was cutting the aid budget.”

Ms Nandy then gave way to Alicia Kearns who questioned the Shadow Foreign Secretary’s own record on Afghanistan.

Ms Kearns stated: “You raise the point of how many times the Prime Minister spoke of Afghanistan in the chamber.

“Apologies… can she please remind us how many times she has ever said the word Afghanistan in this place since she came to the frontbench?”

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Ms Nandy was caught off guard and said: “I’m glad she raises this point Mr Speaker, because it is a sign of a government that is increasingly desperate that they launched these sort of desperate attacks.

“Let me tell her what we have been doing in recent months.

“In April, my colleague, the member for Wentworth and Dearne [John Healey] told the Defence Secretary with the full withdrawal of NATO troops, it is hard to see a future without bloodier conflict, wider Taliban control and greater jeopardy for those Afghans who work with the West.

“And for women in political traditional academic and business roles.”

Ms Nandy did not give a straight answer for Ms Kearns’ question but said the Labour Party had repeatedly “warned” the Government that issues with Afghanistan would arise after military withdrawal.

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The Conservative Party dealt with a backbench rebellion after ministers chose to reduce the UK foreign aid budget in light of the economic impact of the pandemic. 

Mr Raab defended the decision, stating the UK is still contributing a lot more to foreign aid than other western nations. 

He told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge: “What I’d say in relation to public health, we are still putting £1.3billion into global public health initiatives next year, over five years it will be £1.6billion into the [Global Vaccine Alliance].”

Mr Raab also revealed foreign aid spending in Afghanistan could increase by ten percent – despite millions already being cut from the budget. 

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