Tom Tugendhat becomes emotional as he says he ‘like many veterans’ has felt anger, grief and rage this week

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Tom Tugendhat becomes emotional as he says he ‘like many veterans’ has felt anger, grief and rage this week
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A former soldier-turned-Conservative MP warned Afghanistan “damn well feels like” defeat but it “doesn’t have to be” in an emotive Commons speech.

Tom Tugendhat has been outspoken on the withdrawal of British troops in Afghanistan saying it was the biggest foreign policy disaster in decades.

Speaking in the Commons on Wednesday, Mr Tugendhat told MPs that defeat is “when you no longer have the choice of how to help... This doesn’t have to be defeat, but at the moment it damn well feels like it”, as he warned of the “forever war”.

He was applauded for his speech in which he recalled his own experiences in Afghanistan.

“Like many veterans, this last week has been one that has seen me struggle through anger and grief and rage. The feeling of abandonment but not just of a country but the sacrifice that my friends made,” he said.

“I have been to funerals from Poole to Dunblane. I have watched good men go into the earth, taking with them a part of me and a part of all of us.

“This week has torn open some of those wounds, left them raw and left us all hurting.”

The MP said it is not just soldiers left feeling this way but also diplomats, aid workers and journalists.

But one positive outcome from the recall so far is a commitment from the health secretary to do more for veterans’ mental health, he said.

“This isn’t just about us. The mission in Afghanistan wasn’t a British mission, it was a NATO mission. It was a recognition that globalisation has changed us all,” he continued.

“We are connected still today. Afghanistan is not a far country about which we know little. It is part of the main.”

The last few days have demonstrated that it is not armies that win wars, the MP added.

“It is nations that make war. Nations endure. Nations mobilse and muster, nations determine and have patience. Here we have demonstrated sadly that we, the West, the United Kingdom, does not.

“This is a harsh lesson for all of us and if we are not careful, it could be a very, very difficult lesson for our allies. But it doesn’t need to be.”

Mr ugendhat also urged for the UK to work together with Japan, Australia, France and Germany and ensure we “hold the line together.”

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