Dr Julian Lewis: I know that the Minister will take back the very strong feelings expressed on both sides of the House that interpreters and other locally employed civilians must not be abandoned to a terrible fate at the hands of our enemies.
When the Minister says that the military process is over, does he not realise that the only thing that will prevent the Taliban from going back to the position they were in before we intervened 20 years will be the threat that if they try to overthrow the Government, they themselves will face a military consequence – if necessary, from outside the borders of the country? If he rules that out, he is basically giving them carte blanche.
[The Minister for the Armed Forces (James Heappey): As my right hon. Friend will know from his extensive experience of peace processes around the world, it is very likely – indeed, almost certain – that a lasting peace settlement in Afghanistan will involve the Taliban as part of the Afghan Government. It is in all our interests to support the political process as it plays out, but if there is a return to an ungoverned space that gives succour to international terrorism that is a threat to the UK homeland or the interests of our allies, we of course reserve the right to protect our interests, both unilaterally and multilaterally through NATO.]