Senior British politician says sorry for “poor communication” over Taliban advocacy

The senior British Conservative MP and the chair its parliament’s Defence Select Committee, Tobias Ellwood, has apologised for advocating deeper engagement with the Taliban and claiming that the group had “transformed” Afghanistan.

After days of widespread condemnations, which reached the House of Commons on Prime Minister’s Questions, during which a fellow Conservative MP and member of the Committee, Mark Francois, accused Ellwood of “lauding” the Taliban.

On Wednesday evening, in an interview with Talk TV, Ellwood said he had “got it wrong” and would delete the video he had posted on Twitter. But he insisted that “Afghanistan is in a very bad place”.

However, in statement posted on Twitter on Thursday, Ellwood said that “I am sorry for my poor communication”.

Ellwood said: “I am sorry for my poor communication. I stand up, speak my mind, try to see the bigger picture and offer solutions, especially on the international stage, as our world turns a dangerous corner. I don’t always get it right.

“During my visit last week, I witnessed something I did not expect to see – an eerie calm and a visible change in security, corruption and opium growth which I felt obliged to report. But I also saw a very vulnerable economy that will soon collapse without international intervention, turning this country into a failed state, with terrorist camps no doubt returning and triggering mass migration.”

Ellwood added that the understood “strong inclination to refuse any engagement until there’s real progress on the human rights front, given our own sacrifices and the Taliban’s ruthless interpretation of Sharia law.”

But “time is running out before history repeats itself”.

Some of members of the committee he chairs have said they would trigger a vote of no confidence on him.