As expected, the emergency G7 leaders’ summit on Afghanistan has broken up without agreeing an extension to the 31 August deadline for evacuations from Kabul. Boris Johnson tried to put a positive spin on the virtual meeting, which he had convened, when he gave a pool clip after, saying the group had set a condition for the Taliban to ‘guarantee, right the way through, through August 31 and beyond, safe passage for those who want to come out’. He added that while some might not accept that, it was worth noting that ‘the G7 has very considerable leverage – economic, diplomatic and political’.
But he conceded that the deadline extension wasn’t going to happen. ‘But you have heard what the President of the United States has had to say, you have heard what the Taliban have said.’
The meeting has been a failure if you measure it solely by the briefing given by No. 10 beforehand that Boris Johnson would be seeking an extension. Labour will doubtless claim that the Prime Minister failed to rise to the occasion. But Tory MPs – who are scarcely more impressed than the opposition – argue that the failure has been months-long. They believe that today’s summit only shows how wafer-thin the resolve to invigorate the US-UK relationship was back at the main summit in Cornwall in July. They are despondent, not just about Britain’s place and influence in the world, but also about what America is offering.