UK's Tobias Ellwood deletes 'bizarre' video praising Taliban

The Conservative MP conceded the 'video could be done better'

Taliban fighters stand guard in Kabul, Afghanistan, on June 28. AP
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Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood has deleted a video in which he praised the Taliban for tackling opium and corruption, after expressing his regret and facing criticism from fellow MPs.

Fellow Conservative members condemned the House of Commons defence committee chairman for the “utterly bizarre” clip “lauding” the Taliban’s governance of Afghanistan.

Mr Ellwood removed the video from Twitter as the Taliban chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid praised him for his "positive" report, which was filmed in Helmand province.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Wednesday that he would “look into” the video, which was filmed during a visit to the nation recaptured by the fundamentalists as the West removed its troops.

Mr Ellwood, a former defence minister who served in the army, conceded that the “video could be done better”.

“It’s important to put your hand up and acknowledge errors, however well intentioned," the MP for Bournemouth East told TalkTV’s Piers Morgan Uncensored.

“I stand up, I speak my mind. I try and find solutions especially on the international stage, and I’m very, very sorry that my reflection of my visit could have been much better worded and has been taken out of context.”

“I’ll be very clear the last couple of days have probably been the most miserable as a Member of Parliament. I got it wrong."

Afghan women living under Taliban rule - in pictures

Mark Francois told the Commons that his colleague should be “very careful” in expressing his views if he wanted to remain as chair of the committee.

Mr Francois described the video as “utterly bizarre”, and said it was “lauding the Taliban’s management of the country”.

Committee members were describing it as a “wish-you-were-here video”, he said.

“I wish to make plain on behalf of the committee he was speaking for himself, even though he used the title of chairman of our committee in a number of associated articles. Not in our name," Mr Francois said.

Mr Ellwood has been urging the government to reopen the British embassy in Kabul so that progressive improvements for girls’ education can be encouraged “incrementally”.

In his video, he claimed that security in Afghanistan had “vastly improved” since the Taliban had returned to power, “corruption is down” and the opium trade has “all but disappeared”.

Mr Ellwood suggested western countries should “incrementally” encourage women’s rights by engaging with the new regime.

“After Nato’s dramatic departure, should the West now engage with the Taliban?" he asked.

"You quickly appreciate this war-weary nation is for the moment accepting a more authoritarian leadership in exchange for stability."

Updated: July 19, 2023, 10:28 PM