TOMORROW parliament is being recalled to discuss the worsening situation in Afghanistan.

MPs were not due to return to parliament until September 6 but after the Taliban took control of the capital city Kabul, on Sunday, a decision was taken to recall members early.

Local MP Maria Miller will be among those to return to Westminster on Wednesday, August 18.

Maria told the Gazette: “The scenes of people attempting to flee Afghanistan are heart breaking and on Wednesday when Parliament is recalled. I shall be urging the Government to do everything possible to ensure not only the safety of British Citizens but also those Afghans who now fear for their lives under the new regime.

“Britain has worked with partners for more than two decades to help establish an Afghan Government that respects the rights of its citizens to live freely in a country that no longer plays host to terrorism.

“There are families throughout Basingstoke and North Hampshire who played their part in that vital mission, and in doing so directly helped tackle the terrorism threat in our own country too. I met serving personnel from Basingstoke and North Hampshire involved in that work when I was attached to the RAF and visited Afghanistan.

“I pay tribute to their work, and above all, those armed forces personal who lost their lives working to make the world a safer place. Along with the UN and NATO the UK must find new ways to tackle this extremist threat and support those ordinary people in crisis in Afghanistan.

“I fully support the Government’s work to offer sanctuary to Afghan nationals who worked with the British armed forces and now fear for their lives. I hope that just as they helped us we are able to help them in their time of need.”

Her comments come after she voted in favour of cuts to spending on overseas aid last month.

 The moved faced cross-party criticism over the reduction - which amounts to almost £4bn - including from all the UK's living former prime ministers.

Government figures for 2019 show that Afghanistan was the third most dependent on bilateral aid from the now cut funding.

At the time, Daniel Willis, from Global Justice Now, said: "When the inevitable death and suffering from aid cuts hits the news, each and every MP who has voted to sever the UK's 0.7% commitment should know that blood is on their hands."

Miller continued: “An important part of the work done in Afghanistan has been enabling women to play a fuller role. In July I met women in the Afghan Parliament to discuss their concerns and fears about a new Taliban led administration and I shall be urging the UK Government to do all they can to assure the continued role of this group of tenacious women. “

“Whilst our country faces financial crisis following the global pandemic ,the situation in Afghanistan underlines the importance of the work Britain does abroad. I fully support the Government in spending more than £100 million in aid this year to Afghanistan and the continued work with international partners to ensure humanitarian support to the Afghan people at this time of crisis."

A Basingstoke army veteran who served in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo has spoken out about the need for UK government action following the Taliban’s surge in power in recent days.

Lance Corporal Alex Lee, served from 2001 to 2014 with the Royal Signals HQ 1 Mechanised Brigade, including in Afghanistan in 2013. He is now secretary of Labour Friends of the Forces organisation and stood in the May 2021 borough council elections as the Labour candidate for Winklebury & Manydown.

Speaking to the Gazette, he said: “I am shocked with what’s going on out in Afghanistan at the moment, but it’s hard to do anything when you’re out of service and back home.

”It’s hard, it’s upsetting. The time that we spent out there to support Afghan people, to see that it’s rolled back in the space of a few days has really been quite depressing to watch to be honest.”

Alex, who served in the Helmand province in 2013 and was part of the group who helped move the British HQ from Lashkar Gah to Camp Bastion, added: “I saw people who were a force of good, and it just seems to have gone to waste in a matter of days.

Alex said it would be “above his pay grade” to comment on whether western troops were pulled from Afghanistan too soon, but added: “We pulled the rug out from beneath the people who have supported us as well. Contractors, translators. But whether we were there or not is neither here nor there. What we need to do now is ensure that anybody who needs to get back to the UK, whether that's British passport holders or people who have worked for us, get to be immediately brought back for their safety, and their families as well.”

Looking forward, he continued: “We pulled out, that was our decision. We have put a country in a position where there will be, without a doubt, a humanitarian crisis. They will be looking for ways to leave the country and the [UK] government needs to provide that support, both to them and to neighbouring countries which are now going to see an influx of migration.”

Alex said he “welcomes the fact that parliament has been recalled” and, speaking of what answers he wants it to offer, he continued: “What support the government are going to do for countries neighbouring Afghanistan with the crisis that's going to be on their doorstep within weeks, and to understand the safe and legal asylum routes to support people, because we have abandoned them at the end of the day.”