BORIS Johnson has insisted he has full confidence in Dominic Raab after the Foreign Secretary was criticised for his handling of the Afghanistan crisis.

The Prime Minister was challenged over Raab’s decision to delegate a call to a junior minister about repatriating Afghan interpreters while he was on holiday in Cyprus as the crisis escalated.

Asked whether he had full confidence in Raab, Johnson told reporters in Downing Street “absolutely”. He added: “And I can tell you that the whole of the Government has been working virtually around the clock to do what we can to sort it out, to deal with a situation that has been long in gestation and to make sure we get as many people back as possible.”

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The question came after it was reported that Foreign Office officials advised the Foreign Secretary on August 13 to call Afghan foreign minister Hanif Atmar – two days before the Taliban marched on Kabul – to arrange help for those who had supported British troops. Raab delegated this to department minister Lord Goldsmith, and it later emerged the call was never made.

Johnson said he did not think the decision of his Cabinet minister had delayed the rescue of Afghan interpreters from the Taliban. The Prime Minister, asked whether people have been left in Afghanistan as a result of Raab not making the phone call, said: “No, I don’t think that’s the case.”

The National: Prime Minister Boris Johnson

In a statement released yesterday, Raab said the reason he did not hold the conversation with his Afghan counterpart was because the Government “was quickly overtaken by events”.

He added: “The call was delegated to a minister of state because I was prioritising security and capacity at the airport on the direct advice of the director and the director-general overseeing the crisis response.

“In any event, the Afghan foreign minister agreed to take the call, but was unable to because of the rapidly deteriorating situation.”

Raab has faced calls to resign over his handling of Afghanistan with senior Tories doing media interviews to defend the under-fire minister.

But one Tory MP reportedly told The Guardian Raab’s position was untenable and that “not coming home was his biggest mistake”.

Former Brexit secretary David Davis said it was “nonsense” that Raab, who was formerly his chief of staff before becoming an MP, should consider his position after he was found to be on holiday in Crete as Afghanistan fell to the Taliban.

He said that while there had clearly been failings in the handling of the crisis by the Government, they could not be directed at any one person and that having worked with Raab he was a “workaholic” who would often pull 60-hour weeks.

The Prime Minister attempted his own diplomatic push for allies to take a united front in dealing with the Taliban.

The National: Mark Rutte (Chris J. Ratcliffe/AP)

He and Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte (above) agreed any recognition of a new Afghan government should not happen on a unilateral basis, according to a Downing Street readout.

Johnson was speaking to reporters after he had chaired an emergency Government Cobra meeting on Afghanistan, hinted the UK could be willing to work with the Taliban “if necessary” to “find a solution” after 20 years of military engagement.

He said the situation was “getting slightly better”, with “stabilisation” at Kabul airport, adding that 2000 people had been repatriated to the UK in the past days, with most of them UK nationals or those who had assisted British efforts in the central Asian country.

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However, images from Kabul airport yesterday showed women and children being trampled underfoot as desperation mounted with time running out to escape Afghanistan and Taliban rule before Western evacuation flights stop.

Meanwhile, Kirsten Oswald, the SNP Westminster group deputy leader, has backed constituents in calling for the UK Government to provide a safe haven for British Council staff who fear for their lives if left behind in Afghanistan.

Oswald has been contacted by constituents calling for relocation of the British Council’s Afghan employees including Gillian Davidson, an English Language teacher from Eaglesham.

The British Council has said a number of current and former staff have been relocated from Afghanistan to the UK under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme, which is run by the Ministry of Defence and started in April.