Pressure mount on UK Parliament’s Defence Select Committee chair over “lauding” the Taliban

The British parliament’s chair of the Defence Select Committee, Tobias Ellwood, could be removed from his position through a vote of no confidence by the Committee and its members, following his advocacy for the Taliban.

In a video posted on Twitter and an article in the Daily Telegraph, the Conservative member of the House of Commons argued that the UK should “re-engage” with the Taliban as it had “transformed” Afghanistan by “vastly improved” security, reduced corruption and opium trade.

During the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, a Conservative member of the Defence Select Committee, Mark Francois, accused Ellwood of “lauding” the Taliban. He and the Committee members were “absolutely stunned” by Ellwood’s video, he said.

Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said that he acknowledged the Taliban’s abuses of human rights and that diplomatic dialogue did not mean recognition.

Ellwood has been widely criticised for his action and according to the New Statesman, members of the Committee could force a vote of no confidence and remove him from his position.

He has also been condemned for downplaying the plight of millions of people, particularly women and girls, whose fundamental human rights have been curtailed by the Taliban. The Taliban, however, welcomed his remarks.

According to the News Stateman, Defence Committee sources and MPs have grown “increasingly frustrated with interventions by Ellwood.”

The News Statesman added that “Other members are contemplating whether to hold a vote of no confidence at its next meeting, but it is not yet clear whether they have the numbers to oust Ellwood as chairman of the cross-party group.”

“His video is breathtakingly naive and great propaganda for the Taliban,” Kevan Jones, a Labour MP and fellow Committee member, said.

“It airbrushes out the ongoing cruelty of their regime. It does not represent my views and I doubt other members of the Defence Committee.”

Johnny Mercer, the veterans’ minister, who fought in Afghanistan as a soldier, said that the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan was “a tragedy of epic human proportions.”

Ellwood previously called for the Taliban to be officially recognised in February 2022.