A senior Tory MP faces being removed from his role as head of a parliamentary committee after he posted a video in which he appeared to praise the Taliban’s leadership in Afghanistan.
Four members of the Commons Defense Committee have moved a motion of no confidence in Tobias Ellwood: Labor MPs Kevin Jones and Derek Twigg, along with Conservative MPs Mark Francois and Richard Drakes.
Mr Jones told Sky News: “This is not the first time that Tobias Ellwood has made statements that do not reflect the position of the committee.
Mr Ellwood apologized this morning after posting the video on social media earlier this week.
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Posting a video of a visit to the country with HelloTrust – which was retweeted by the Taliban’s official spokesman – Mr Ellwood said the “war-weary nation” was now “accepting more authoritarian leadership in exchange for stability”.
The senior Conservative, whose brother was killed by Islamist extremists, urged Britain to reopen its embassy in Afghanistan – saying: “If the EU embassy can open, so can ours.”
Mr Ellwood, who previously served in the army, also hit out when he said: “Screaming from afar will not improve women’s rights.”
He faced immediate backlash for his comments – former cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg said it was “foolish and ill-advised” and “could have been issued by the Afghan Tourism Board”.
Fellow defense committee member Mark Francois described the video as “absolutely weird” – and said one of his colleagues described it as a “I wish you were here” video.
“They make no mention of the fact that the Taliban are still trying to identify and kill Afghan civilians who have helped our armed forces, and make no mention of the fact that young girls in Afghanistan do not even have the right to go to school under this regime,” Mr Francois said.
“I want to be clear, on behalf of the committee, he was speaking his mind, even though he used the title of our committee chairman in several related articles. Not our name.”
Mr Ellwood said the reflection on his “personal visit” could have been better described.
He added: “I apologize for my poor communication.
“I stand up, speak my mind, try to see the big picture and offer solutions, especially on the international stage, as our world takes a dangerous turn. I don’t always get it right.”
But he appeared to defend some of his earlier ideas – reiterating that “after suddenly abandoning the country in 2021, our current strategy of making noise from afar is not working”.
Mr Ellwood argued: “My simple call to action was to see us reopen our embassies and adopt a more direct strategy to help the 40 million people we have abandoned.”
By closing down beauty salons, the Taliban have eliminated the last safe haven for Afghan women.
About 80 schoolgirls were poisoned in Afghanistan.
NATO withdrew from Afghanistan nearly two years ago in a chaotic withdrawal that saw the Taliban regain power in the country.
Since his return, the Taliban have reinstated restrictions on girls’ education – and introduced laws preventing women from going to work.
The group has also banned women’s beauty salons, and barred women from public spaces such as parks and gyms.