DOMINIC Raab claimed he would not have left the UK had he known what would unfold in Afghanistan over the weekend, following reports he remained on holiday until late on Sunday.

The Foreign Secretary was seen relaxing on a beach on the Greek island of Crete on Sunday, the same day members of the militant group Taliban entered Kabul, according to a report in The Telegraph.

The newspaper reported that Raab then caught a flight back to the UK on Sunday evening. It said the Foreign Office did not deny that Raab spent time on the beach, but that it rejected suggestions he had been there for a considerable amount of time.

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Raab said today that “no-one” saw the situation in Afghanistan coming.

And when asked how sorry he was that he did not return from his holiday earlier, the Foreign Secretary said he returned “as soon as the situation deteriorated and demanded it”.

The National: Taliban fighters patrol inside the city of Farah, capital of Farah province, southwest Afghanistan

He said: “Everyone was caught off-guard by the pace, scale of the Taliban takeover.”

Raab said all foreign secretaries, “when we are abroad, whether it’s travel for work or for holiday, we are there able to respond to events. So I was engaged in Cobra, talking to foreign counterparts, directly speaking to the head of our team here in London, I was doing that on an hour-by-hour basis and, of course, I left as soon as the situation deteriorated and demanded it”.

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The Foreign Secretary added the situation in Afghanistan was being monitored, and “from my point of view, at any point in time, I will have eight to 10 simmering issues that can bubble up”.

But he said he had not predicted the UK would be carrying out the evacuation effort in the way it is now because of the pace of events, adding: “but look, in retrospect of course I wouldn’t have gone on holiday if I had known that would be the case.

“Equally, after 18 months and two years of a very gruelling, demanding schedule, I think it is right that people in those positions try and take some leave, but we are always ready, I’m always ready, to come back,” he said, adding: “I was constantly handling and managing meetings, talking to foreign counterparts, and because of technology, of course, able to engage in every one of the Cobra meetings.”

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Asked if the UK should have seen the situation in Afghanistan developing, Raab said: “I think it is easy to say that with the benefit of hindsight, but the truth is you are always measuring a very fluid constellation matrix, if you like, of risk factors, and that is the reality.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s departure on holiday on Saturday, despite public warnings the Taliban would be in Kabul within hours, has been criticised as a “dereliction of duty” by former senior military and security figures.