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Live Reporting

Edited by Johanna Howitt and Marie Jackson and James Clarke

All times stated are UK

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  1. Thank you for joining us

    BBC Politics

    We are going to close our coverage for today.

    The team on board with you were: Doug Faulkner, Francesca Gillett, George Bowden, Marie Jackson, James Clarke, Johanna Howitt and Joseph Lee.

    You can keep up with all unfolding events in Afghanistan here.

    Good night.

    packed commons chamber
    Image caption: MPs packed the Commons chamber for the emergency debate on Afghanistan
  2. Analysis

    The mood of the House reflects a damaging day for ministers

    Mark D'Arcy

    Parliamentary Correspondent

    In normal times opinion on the green benches of the Commons chamber can crystallise during a debate.

    A minister’s credibility can evaporate, MPs can spot the bloom of sweat on a beleaguered brow, dissidents can discover others agree with them, and the noise level ramps up as a political herd instinct kicks in.

    It’s called the “mood of the House” and under pandemic restrictions it disappeared.

    For more than a year, ministers in trouble faced a mostly empty chamber, and fielded the attacks of MPs who were called in a pre-determined order, heading off unexpected attacks.

    The pressure levels needed to crystallise opinion were never reached.

    All that changed today, as the cap on the number of MPs allowed into the chamber was lifted and the benches were once again packed.

    The PM faced non-stop interventions (mostly critical, some hostile) in his speech, and worse he could hear attacks on his handling of Afghanistan delivered with minimal rumbles of disagreement from his own side.

    It has been a damaging day for ministers who have perhaps become too used to the protection the pandemic restrictions gave them.

  3. Key points from the debate

    House of Commons
    • Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK had "succeeded" in its "core mission" to stabilise Afghanistan
    • The PM said events in Afghanistan "unfolded faster than even the Taliban expected"
    • He said the Taliban would be judged on their "actions not words"
    • He said the UK has an "enduring commitment to all the Afghan people", and he will convene a meeting of the G7 in the coming days, adding that national security is a concern for all the Nato allies
    • Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused Mr Johnson of "staggering complacency" and "appalling" judgement by failing to plan properly for the withdrawal of troops over the past 18 months
    • He called the government's refugee repatriation target too small and claimed the 20,000 figure had been "plucked out of the air"
    • The prime minister faced a barrage of criticism from backbench MPs
    • Former PM Theresa May said it was "incomprehensible" the UK was not doing more to maintain a presence, while ex-minister Johnny Mercer demanded more help for veterans
    • Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat made an emotional speech. MPs listened in silence as he told of the anger, grief and rage felt by veterans at the "abandonment" of Afghanistan.
  4. Watch: Army veteran silences MPs with powerful Afghanistan speech

    Tory MP Tom Tugendhat has been praised for his stirring and passionate speech in today's Commons debate.

    Tugendhat served in Afghanistan before becoming an MP and says he, like many veterans, has struggled through anger, grief and rage over the past week.

    MPs on both sides of the Commons listened in near-silence as he suggested the West and the UK had not shown patience towards Afghanistan, in the way it had to other countries where British troops are currently stationed.

    "Cyprus is at peace with patience. South Korea - more than 10 times the number of troops America had in Afghanistan - is prosperous through patience."

    He was applauded by some MPs following his speech, which you can see here:

    Video content

    Video caption: Tom Tugenhadt on UK and Afghanistan: Anger, grief, rage
  5. Special Question Time programme on Afghanistan tonight

    A special edition of Question Time is taking place tonight with the focus on Afghanistan.

    The programme will be broadcast at 19:00 BST this evening on BBC One.

    On the panel will be the government's minister for the Middle East, James Cleverly, as well as Labour's shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy who's just been talking in the Commons.

    Rory Stewart - the former Conservative politician who has written and presented documentaries about Afghanistan - will also be on the programme, as well as journalist and documentary-maker Nelufar Hedayat, who came to Britain as an Afghan refugee.

    Also on the panel will be Mehdi Hasan, British-American broadcaster and host of the Mehdi Hasan Show on MSNBC.

    Fiona Bruce
  6. Raab cut short by the Speaker


    Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, has been warning MPs all afternoon about strict time limits - and now he's stopped the foreign secretary in his tracks.

    Dominic Raab was just discussing the plans to raise the aid budget when he was interrupted by the cry of "Order!" on the dot of 17:00 BST, when the debate was due to finish.

    The Speaker says he is required to put the question, which is simply that the House has considered the situation in Afghanistan. Several MPs shout "aye!" and they agree to adjourn. So that's it for the debate.

  7. 'We are providing a lifeline for the most vulnerable' - Raab


    As he describes the efforts to help Afghan refugees escape, Raab invokes his own history as the son of a Jewish father who fled Czechoslovakia in 1938 after it was occupied by the Nazis.

    He says: "As the son of a refugee I am deeply proud that this government is continuing the big-hearted tradition of the British people of offering a safe haven to those fleeing persecution​."

    The UK government is getting its citizens out and getting out those who have worked for it, he says. "We are providing a lifeline for the most vulnerable."

  8. Eight more evacuation flights from today - Raab

    Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says the evacuation effort - which he says has been in place for four months - has three strands.

    All British nationals were urged to leave Afghanistan back in April, he says - and many hundreds did so on commercial flights.

    Since the security situation worsened last weekend, the government started chartering flights, he says. The first one left Kabul on Sunday with about 150 UK nationals and their dependants on board.

    "In the last 24 hours, 646 people have been evacuated - a combination of nationals, Afghans who work for us and UK allies - and there will be eight flights following today."

  9. Raab: Labour has 'no serious or credible alternative'

    Dominic Raab

    Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is now speaking to close today's debate in the Commons.

    Raab has been criticised in recent days by opposition MPs for being on holiday while the Taliban made gains in Afghanistan and surrounded Kabul.

    He begins by summarising the debate, praising the powerful contributions about the gains made by women and girls and pledging to safeguard them.

    After noting the "heartfelt and truly valuable" contributions, he turns to the Labour frontbenches and says Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has made it clear he supports the decision to withdraw.

    He says Starmer "criticises the consequences of a decision he backed" and offers "no serious or credible alternative of his own".

    Asked by an intervening MP about the risks of admitting refugees who might attack the UK, Raab agrees there is a need for "basic checks" to ensure that seats on the planes go to the right people.

    He says the government is "straining every sinew on the evacuation effort" and "working around the clock".

  10. Nandy: Government has hours to make this right

    Lisa Nandy - Labour's shadow foreign secretary - ends her speech by saying that Dominic Raab - the foreign secretary, who is about to speak - "has a choice".

    "He could read out his notes that he holds in front of him. Or he could tear them up and he could tell us the truth.

    "How will we help them? How will we repair this? How will we rise to the scale of this challenge and show that we are a serious country again prepared to engage in the world and stand up for values, especially when it is hard.

    "He has hours, not days, to make this right with so many Afghan people and repair our reputation around the world.

    "We have so much to be proud of as a country, Mr Speaker. Can it again include our government?"

  11. Labour's Nandy: We should be inspired by those who stayed behind to help


    Labour's Lisa Nandy accuses the government of being dishonest by claiming to be doubling aid to Afghanistan, when just a few months ago it was cut in half.

    She says the government has "no serious plan" to deal with the reality of Taliban rule and the threat to the UK. The past 18 months should have been used to plan the UK's withdrawal, she says.

    And Nandy says the government "are behaving as if they have no agency and no power".

    "It should be sobering for the government that not one single speech today has been uncritical of their approach," she says.

    Nandy adds "we should be inspired" by the people, including armed forces and aid workers who returned to evacuate people in recent days - "and most of all the ambassador, who has embodied what courage looked like, who have stayed and remained to help those who are trying to exit."

    "They stand for something important," she says. "They stand for a country that feels a deep sense of responsibility to our fellow human beings and believes that when we make promises we should keep them."

  12. Labour's Nandy: An unparalleled moment of shame for this government

    Lisa Nandy

    Labour's shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy says today's debate has included "some of the most harrowing" moments she has seen in Parliament.

    We recognise the decision by the US to withdraw its military presence "created an impossible situation for the UK", she says - and Nato's intention was always to withdraw.

    But Nato's intention was to do so in a planned and orderly way - but the reality has failed to do that, she says.

    "This is an unparalleled moment of shame for this government," says Nandy.

    Security at the airport is now in the gift of the Taliban, she says - and it appears the government has no agreement beyond the US's deal with the Taliban that runs until the end of this month.

    The tragedy of all of this, she says, is that even the people who the government recognises need to be evacuated - like the Chevening scholars - say they can't get through the roadblocks to the airport in Kabul.

  13. Last backbench MP to speak warns of 'over-reliance' on US

    Anthony Higginbotham is the last of the backbenchers to speak. He says the removal of the Taliban gave people hope, which is why the scenes from Afghanistan have been so "heartbreaking".

    He says the message to veterans should be "we are incredibly proud of what they did and we are proud of what the Afghans did" and that if the Afghans need our help, we will give it to them.

    Higginbotham praises the defence secretary for trying to build a new coalition in the light of the US pullout but says the episode highlights the weakness of "over-reliance on a single partner".

    Now he says the task is to preserve the security gains and to get our people out.

  14. Explained: What is Sharia law?

    A woman reads the Koran

    During its first press conference since seizing control of Kabul, a Taliban spokesman said issues such as the media and women's rights will be respected "within the framework of Islamic law".

    But the group has not yet provided any details of what that will mean in practice.

    Islam's legal system - Sharia law - is derived from both the Koran, Islam's central text, and fatwas - the rulings of Islamic scholars.

    Sharia is complex and its practice is entirely reliant on the quality and training of experts.

    While it can inform every aspect of daily life for a Muslim there are also some harsh punishments for serious crimes known as "hadd" offences, including theft.

    Read more here.

  15. Most Tory MPs ditch the mask for Afghanistan debate

    Boris Johnson stands in front of packed benches of Tory MPs, most of whom are not wearing masks
    Image caption: Most Tory MPs did not wear face masks

    Most Tory MPs have not worn face masks during the packed Commons debate on Afghanistan, despite government guidance to do so in crowded areas.

    More opposition MPs than Conservatives covered their faces, as MPs sat shoulder-to-shoulder to discuss developments in Afghanistan.

    It is the first time the Commons, which has been recalled to debate the crisis, has been full since March 2020.

    No 10 said it was a "matter for the parliamentary authorities".

    MPs mostly wearing facemasks
    Image caption: Mask-wearing was much more common among Labour, SNP and Liberal Democrat MPs
  16. Former Afghan translators protest outside Parliament

    Afghan translators' protest
    Image caption: Afghans who worked for the UK say they fear colleagues left behind will be killed

    While MPs and Lords have been debating, dozens of former translators have gathered outside Parliament as part of a protest over the support for Afghan citizens following the Taliban takeover.

    They've held up images of people being attacked, injured and killed with slogans such as "Protect our loved ones" and "Do not leave anyone behind".

    One former interpreter, who gave his name as Rafi, tells the PA news agency: “The Taliban will butcher every single one of them if they are left behind.

    “The Afghan nation feels betrayed and let down. They deserved better. The Americans took the rug from under our feet and left the nation with no protection, no safety and under the control of the same terrorists that we started fighting 20 years ago.”

    Afghan translators' protest
    Image caption: Some of them said it had taken years to bring their own families over to join them from Afghanistan

    Mujtaba, who was an interpreter for the British armed forces in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2010, says he had only been able to move his family to the UK a month before Kabul fell.

    He moved to the UK in 2010 but was only granted the right for his family to settle with him in July - more than a decade later.

    "Lots of our family, friends and colleagues have been left behind. When I see everything going on, it makes me sad. I’m sad for them all," he says.

    Afghan translators' protest
    Image caption: Some MPs took time out from the debate to meet the translators during their protest
  17. Councils start preparing to welcome refugees

    Evacuees walk towards arrivals area at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, Britain, August 16, 2021.

    Away from the Commons, local councils have been putting themselves forward to rehome refugees under the government's resettlement scheme. (For more on the government's plan to take in 20,000 refugees including 5,000 this year, head here.)

    One council says it has already welcomed its first family.

    John Robinson, the leader of Newark and Sherwood Council, has tweeted: "Privilege to welcome our first Afghan family to be resettled into Newark and Sherwood. Blown away by their resilience, optimism and gratitude in the face of such tragedy."

    Other councils have started looking at the practical issues, for example Wrexham Council, which issued an urgent appeal for landlords to help with accommodation.

    James Jamieson, chairman of the Local Government Association - which represents councils across England and Wales - says councils "stand ready to work with government to design any new resettlement scheme, so it ensures new arrivals get the support they need to settle into their new communities".

    Earlier, MPs in the Commons including Daisy Cooper called for councils to get extra funding to help with them taking in refugees.

  18. Our foreign policy is in tatters - Ellwood

    Tobias Ellwood

    We heard from Tobias Ellwood in the debate a little earlier who said the UK has some serious questions to ask about its place in the world.

    He's since been speaking to BBC Radio 4's the World at One programme, delivering a bleak assessment of where he thinks the UK now stands.

    "We're just left with our foreign policy in tatters," says Ellwood, the Conservative chair of the defence select committee.

    "I don't understand what we're trying to do in the South Pacific and Asia now, not least because China has given £60bn to the Taliban.

    "They will now create a one-belt one road link between China and Karachi deliberately so they will have a back-passage to their own country in case Taiwan is surrounded in the next couple of decades."

    "I think there is some complacency. There's just too many plates spinning in No 10 for them to understand what's going on.

    "We speak of global Britain - the G7 summit was all about stepping up on the international stage, America used this phrase America is back.

    "I was delighted when Trump was removed and hopeful that Biden would then encourage the West to work together but here we are departing together," he said.

  19. Gay men 'know they will be exterminated' - Bryant warns

    Chris Bryant

    Labour's Chris Bryant says he feels "ashamed", describing the situation as "the most sudden and catastrophic collapse of a foreign and military policy objective since Suez".

    "We have managed to humiliate ourselves, we have shamed our politics and our way of doing business, we have trailed the British flag and frankly our own honour in the dirt and the mud," he says.

    Bryant goes on to say he is fearful for the women and children but also for the gay men in Afghanistan.

    "Now they know that they will be exterminated," he says, adding that gay men can be dealt with by stoning in Afghanistan.

    He finishes by saying he is angry with the government and in particular with the prime minister, saying Boris Johnson was not courageous enough in standing up to the US president either this year or last year.

    Tory MP Nusrat Ghani says when she worked for BBC World Service she had gathered some women to speak in the Afghan parliament for the first time.

    "We did that under the threat of the Taliban. But I had a British passport, I knew I could come home and be safe. And I was naively optimistic and thought that these women's lives would be improved for the better.

    "And now I am receiving phone calls and they are telling me it is game over."

    She says it took 20 years to get 69 women MPs in Afghanistan but now they know they need to get out "and get out soon", along with their families and people who have worked with them.

    "It means that 20 years from now we will have to start all over again," she says describing it as a "watershed of a failure by the West".

  20. Conservative MPs criticise US action

    Bob Seely

    Former army reserve Conservative MP Bob Seely has criticised the actions of the US in Afghanistan.

    He tells MPs: "We have chosen to politically withdraw - we have not been forced to do so on security grounds, and we will be regretting this decision for many years."

    He says the collapse happened because a "truly dreadful president Donald Trump - who was probably in hock with the Russians - struck a deal with Taliban behind the Afghan government's back - a shocking betrayal".

    "Joe Biden could have changed things," he says. "He has chosen not to and he has opened the United States, Europe, India, many allies, to considerable terrorist risks."

    Andrew Rosindell echoes the criticism of President Biden. The Conservative MP says British people "are shocked at what we are seeing today".

    "After 20 years of British and American involvement this is not the outcome we had expected," he says.

    "Our presence in Afghanistan may not have continued indefinitely, but it needed to be handled in the right way - it has not been."

    "President Biden must be held to account for his actions."

    Andrew Rosindell