After seven and a half hours, the House of Commons debate on Afghanistan has finally concluded. Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab will not have fond memories of the day. Keir Starmer, in front of a packed House of Commons for the first time in his leadership, delivered a respectable performance, replete with jabs at the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary.
But it will be the criticisms from Tory MPs that will have alarm bells ringing in No. 10 tonight, after a series of bruising condemnations delivered by one senior backbencher after another. Below Steerpike brings you the top five flashpoints of blue on blue attacks from today’s debate in the House of Commons.
As a former Prime Minister, Theresa May was granted the privilege of being one of the first backbenchers to respond to Boris Johnson’s statement. And the ex-Tory leader wasted no time in twisting the knife into her successor, asking ‘Was our intelligence really so poor? Or did we just feel we had to follow the United States, and on a wing and a prayer it would be alright on the night?’
The former soldier and current chair of the Defence Select Committee implied the government was lacking ‘backbone’, telling the Commons that: ‘We have the means, the hard power, the connections to lead. What we require is the backbone. When our moment comes we are found wanting. We have some serious questions to ask about our place in the world.’
Another former soldier, Johnny Mercer resigned from the government as defence minister back in April when he launched a caustic attack on the Johnson government. He had similarly savage words to say today, warning of ‘a bow wave of mental health challenges’ to come. He demanded more for all veterans: ‘The Prime Minister has consistently failed to honour what he said he would do.