Tom Tugendhat has just delivered what should be the defining speech of this recall of parliament. The Conservative chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee spoke in pin-drop silence about his own emotional response to the events in Afghanistan, about what he saw as the failure of world leaders, particularly President Biden, and about what must be done to help those desperate people who are trying to leave the country.
He spoke from his own experience as someone who served both as a soldier and a civilian in Afghanistan. He said the events of the past week had 'torn open some of those wounds, left them raw and left us all hurting'. He recalled colleagues who had died, saying: 'I've watched good men go into the earth, taking with them a part of me and a part of us all.' He followed this by telling the House that he had spoken to the Health Secretary, who has pledged to do more to help veterans with their mental health.
Most powerfully, he launched an attack on President Biden for his statement on Monday night in which he blamed the Afghan forces for not fighting back against the Taliban. He said: 'To see their Commander in Chief call into question the courage of the men I fought with, to claim that they ran. Shameful. Those who have never fought for the colours they fly should be careful about criticising those who have.'