I am grateful that I was able to contribute to the General Debate on the situation in Afghanistan, during which I spoke up for those that fought for us and worked with us, women and girls that deserve better and to make sure we learn from what has happened.
You can read what I said below:
In preparation for today’s debate, I put out an all-stations call to my constituents to establish their opinions. By Jove, they have many questions about what has happened.
Today, we need to focus on what we do next. We must do all we can to assist those Afghan people who supported the British effort and who are now at risk of retribution, namely the thousands of interpreters still waiting to leave. It would be optimistic to assume that the air bridge will remain open much longer. I urge the Government, as others have, to ramp up the substantial efforts already being made to maximise this brief window of opportunity. I, too, commend the Secretary of State for Defence for his tireless work over the past few days. However, despite the need for expedience, we must ensure that our national and border security is upheld and prepare for an influx of refugees. These are areas of concern to my constituents.
The Defence Committee has just undertaken an inquiry into the experiences of women in the military and of female veterans. It saddens me immensely that we will now see the re-emergence of the oppression of Afghan women, nowhere more so than the oppression of women upholding democracy in the military, media and Parliament. I urge the Government to consider them with preference in the citizens’ resettlement scheme. I have been talking to many fellow veterans, as we all have, and unilaterally they hold a deep and fresh grief for the loss of service lives in Afghanistan. I want to reassure them that for those who served and made that sacrifice, that meant that terrorists were denied the ability to launch attacks on and in Britain, and for that we are eternally grateful.
Of the 457 service personnel who were killed, 32 were from Wales, including Guardsman Shadrake from Wrexham—the anniversary of his death was yesterday. Two thousand, two hundred were physically wounded, and countless are left with mental scars. We must do all that we can as a society and as a Parliament to support those people. Finally, I would like to name the four service personnel from my old corps, the Intelligence Corps, who made the ultimate sacrifice: Sarah Bryant, James Brynin, Jabron Hashmi and Oliver Thomas.