Boris Johnson’s chief of staff spent the day watching cricket just days before Kabul fell to the Taliban last year, according to reports.
Dan Rosenfield was on the first day of the England-India test at Lord’s on August 12, three days before Taliban forces entered the Afghan capital, according to the Sunday Telegraph.
In the following days, a senior Downing Street official ordered then Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to return from his own holiday in Cyprus to deal with the crisis.
Since the fall of Kabul on August 15, No 10 has been criticized for not taking the Taliban threat seriously until too late and the withdrawal of British forces has been mishandled.
Members of the armed forces still in Afghanistan, as well as those eligible for evacuation who had worked with British forces, were hastily evacuated from Kabul. Some who had worked with UK agencies were left behind.
The newspaper also claims that Rosenfield was present at the Hundred’s finale at Lord’s on August 21, as the evacuation from Afghanistan entered its final days and American citizens were told not to go to the Kabul airport.
This week it emerged that an evacuation of cats and dogs from a British charity in Afghanistan during the fall of Kabul may have been personally approved by the prime minister.
Two emails released by the cross-party foreign affairs select committee appeared to contradict Johnson’s insistence that he had not authorized the decision. In a TV interview, Johnson called the accusation that he interfered “total rhubarb”.
Rosenfield has been seen as a potential counterweight to Conservative Party MPs unhappy with Johnson’s leadership in recent months. Amid growing unpopularity, it is believed a staff reshuffle could help reset his premiership.
Some Tory MPs have privately complained that Rosenfield is not politically astute enough for a crucial post for the Prime Minister.
Johnson was called to resign over alleged parties and a breach of Covid rules at Downing Street during the lockdown.
David Davis, the former Brexit secretary who called on Johnson to step down during Prime Ministers Questions earlier this month, told the Telegraph: ‘It’s an extraordinary reflection of the work ethic and commitment of the No. 10 staff that a senior member of that staff is taking days off when Afghanistan falls and No. 10 demanding that ministers return from vacation.
A No 10 source told The Telegraph: ‘Dan was in constant contact with the office, working long days and weekends throughout the period which saw the fall of Kabul and the safe evacuation of 15 000 people during Operation Pitting.”