Boris Johnson says claim he intervened in Afghan animal airlift is ‘total ...
The Independent

Boris Johnson has dismissed reports he intervened to get animals airlifted out of Afghanistan, calling the claims “total rhubarb”.

He was dismissing the contents of a leaked email, but as he spoke, further leaked correspondence was published.

The prime minister sought to dismiss allegations he personally approved the evacuation of cats and dogs from the Nowzad charity in Kabul.

He has repeatedly denied approving their rescue in the final days of the mission as thousands of people wanting to flee the Taliban were left behind.

However a new email shared by a Commons inquiry shows a Foreign Office official saying in August that Johnson had just “authorised” the animals’ rescue.

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And as he was talking, further leaked correspondence was published, suggesting that then-foreign secretary Dominic Raab and No 10 were involved in the decision.

Downing Street has repeatedly denied intervening in any individual cases in the final days of the mission as thousands of people wanting to flee the Taliban were left behind.

But an email shared with a Commons inquiry shows a Foreign Office official saying in August that the Prime Minister had just “authorised” the animals’ rescue.

And the BBC reported another email from the same day saying Mr Raab was “seeking a steer from No 10 on whether” to call Nowzad staff forward.

Speaking to broadcasters during a visit to North Wales, Mr Johnson said: “This whole thing is total rhubarb.”

Pressed if he intervened, he responded: “Absolutely not, the military always prioritised human beings.”

The prime minister’s official spokesman had earlier said: “It’s not uncommon in Whitehall for a decision to be interpreted or portrayed as coming directly from the prime minister even when that’s not the case and it’s our understanding that’s what happened in this instance. We appreciate it was a frenetic time for those officials dealing with this situation.”

Meanwhile, Jacob Rees-Mogg has dismissed the controversy as “fussing about a few animals”.

As the story continues developing, people have seized upon the prime minister’s “rhubarb” comments.

Ambushed by rhubarb!”, journalist Andrew Quinn wrote.

Tim Shipman quipped: “Where does ‘total rhubarb’ stand in the boulevard of convincing denials? Above or below an ‘inverted pyramid of piffle’?”











Looks like our rhubarb-loving prime minister is in quite a jam…

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