18 Aug Tom Tugendhat: Conservative MP and former soldier gets round of applause in Commons for emotional Afghanistan speech | Politics News
A Conservative MP who served in Afghanistan received a round of applause after delivering an emotional speech in an emergency Commons debate on the crisis there.
Tom Tugendhat told MPs the past week has seen him, like many veterans, “struggle through anger, grief and rage” as events in Afghanistan unfolded.
“The feeling of abandonment, of not just a country but the sacrifice that my friends made,” the MP for Tonbridge and Malling in Kent said.
Mr Tugendhat said he had seen “good men go into the earth, taking with a part of me and a part of all of us”.
The Taliban takeover, he added, has “torn open” old wounds and “left them raw”.
Parliament has been recalled to discuss the crisis in Afghanistan following the Taliban’s rapid takeover of the country at the weekend.
Mr Tugendhat reserved particular criticism for Joe Biden, saying it was “shameful” for the US president to “call into question the courage of the men I fought with”.
“Those who have not fought for the colours they fly should be careful about criticising those who have,” he said.
In an address to the nation on Monday, Mr Biden said the Afghan military had “collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight”.
“American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves,” the president added.
Mr Tugendhat said the UK could work with other countries, independent of the US, adding: “We can set out a vision, clearly articulate it, for reinvigorating our European NATO partners, to make sure that we are not dependent on a single ally, on the decision of a single leader, that that we can work together with Japan and Australia, France and Germany, with partners large and small and make sure we hold the line together.”
The MP recalled his time as an advisor to the governor of Helmand province, remembering the “joy” the opening of schools for girls brought to families.
“I didn’t understand it until I took my own daughter to school about a year ago,” he said.
“There was a lot of crying when she first went in, but I got over it and it went OK. I’d love to see that continue.”
He said he wanted to leave MPs with a second, “harder” image, continuing: “It’s one that the forever war that has just reignited could lead to.
“It is the image of a man whose name I never knew, carrying a child who had died hours earlier – carrying this child into our fire base and begging for help.
“There was nothing we could do. It was over. This is what defeat looks like when you no longer have the choice of how to help.
“This doesn’t need to be defeat but at the moment it damn well feels like it.”