Boris Johnson says he “absolutely” has confidence in Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab – and insisted the government is working “virtually round the clock” to help evacuate people from Afghanistan.
Speaking after a meeting of the government’s emergency COBRA committee on Friday afternoon, Mr Johnson dismissed criticism of Mr Raab’s summer holiday as Afghanistan’s capital Kabul fell to the Taliban.
“I can tell you that the whole of the government has been working virtually around the clock hitting the phones to do what we can,” the prime minister said.
“I’m not going to pretend to you that it’s easy. As you can imagine, challenges are formidable.”
The PM said the operation to evacuate British citizens and Afghan people who had worked alongside British forces was in the “first phase”, adding that “efforts are really starting to pay off”.
He said that he was also “pleased with the response so far” on efforts to relocate Afghan workers in the UK after they fled the Taliban.
“The situation is precarious, be in no doubt – everybody can see the logistical difficulties,” he said.
Speaking about the US withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, he said “this was never going to be an easy moment”.
Earlier on Friday, Mr Johnson met with some of the former Afghan staff who were employed by the UK in their country and who have since been resettled in Britain under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP).
Mr Johnson said in a tweet: “They worked side-by-side with us and we stood by them and ensured their safety.
“We’re working tirelessly to help those in the country to whom we owe a debt of obligation.”