Dominic Raab 'not confident' on how many people eligible to come to the UK remain trapped in Afghanistan

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Dominic Raab has said he is "not confident with any precision" about how many people who are entitled to come to the UK remain trapped in Afghanistan.

Facing questions on the UK's withdrawal by members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr Raab also confirmed he will be travelling to the region after the hearing concludes on Wednesday afternoon.

The foreign secretary, who faced criticism after it emerged he was on holiday in Crete while the Taliban was advancing on Kabul, refused to offer further details about when he went abroad.

Mr Raab described questions about his trip as a "fishing expedition" and repeated that he "would not have gone away with the benefit of hindsight".

He added: "I am not going to start adding to, frankly, the fishing expedition beyond the facts that I have articulated and the fulsome statement and having answered questions on this continuously."

The foreign secretary also could not say how many of his department's ministers are currently overseas.

He told MPs he did not have "the precise detail" to answer this question, but that there is "a rota system" in place to ensure cover.

"We're always very careful about signalling travel movements because of the security implications," he added.

Mr Raab maintained that he has remained fully engaged with the situation in Afghanistan, noting that he had "over 40 meetings or telephone calls where Afghanistan was on the agenda" between mid-March and 30 August - which works out as "broadly one every four days".

He added that the "central assessment" of the UK government had been that Kabul was "unlikely" to fall this year.

"The central assessment that we were operating to - and it was certainly backed up by the JIC (Joint Intelligence Committee) and the military - is that the most likely, the central proposition, was that given the troop withdrawal by the end of August, you'd see a steady deterioration from that point and it was unlikely Kabul would fall this year," he said.

The foreign secretary noted that this assessment remained "until late", but that work to develop an evacuation plan was ongoing from June.

"We started planning in June for the contingency of an evacuation and therefore a full drawdown of the embassy," he told the committee.

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