Dominic Raab accused of hypocrisy after calling British workers ‘worst idlers in the world’

Under-pressure minister previously said it easier to ‘let go’ of lazy staff

Adam Forrest
Friday 20 August 2021 12:05
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Dominic Raab defended by armed forces minister amid Afghan criticism

Labour has accused foreign secretary Dominic Rabb of hypocrisy after unearthed comments revealed he accused British workers of being the “worst idlers in the world”.

The cabinet minister is under pressure to resign after failing to cut short his recent holiday in Crete as Afghanistan fell to the Taliban.

Mr Raab was seen on the Greek beach on the island on Sunday afternoon as the militants seized control of the capital Kabul, according to reports.

It has emerged that Mr Raab and other Tory MPs who are now senior cabinet ministers maligned “lazy” British workers in a book they co-authored in 2012.

Britannia Unchained – Global Growth And Prosperity, co-written with home secretary Priti Patel, business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng and trade secretary Liz Truss, said: “Once they enter the workplace, the British are among the worst idlers in the world.”

Mr Raab and fellow MPs also wrote: “We work among the lowest hours, we retire early and our productivity is poor. Too many people in Britain, we argue, prefer a lie-in to hard work.”

Giving an interview at the time of the book’s release, Mr Raab said: “People who are coasting – it should be easier to let them go, to give the unemployed a chance. It is a delicate balancing act, but it should be decided in favour of the latter.”

Labour MP Kevin Brennan said: “Dominic Raab is a hypocrite. How dare he malign British workers like that – especially when he couldn’t be bothered to get off his sun lounger to make a phone call to save people’s lives in Afghanistan.”

Mr Brenna added: “He should resign but if he’s too stubborn, Boris Johnson should sack him.”

One Whitehall source told The Guardian the foreign secretary “refused to be contacted on basically anything” for over week while in Crete, adding that there was “an incredibly high bar to getting him to look at anything while on holiday”.

Asked about Mr Raab’s actions on Friday, junior defence minister James Heappey said people at all levels in the UK Government are "working their backsides off" to evacuate people from Kabul.

Filmed walking into Downing Street on Thursday, a smiling Mr Raab was asked if he would resign – but told reporters: “No.” The foreign secretary previously told Sky News that he returned from holiday “as soon as the situation deteriorated and demanded it”

The foreign secretary was reportedly “unavailable” when officials in his department suggested he urgently call Afghan foreign minister Hanif Atmar on 13 August – two days before the Taliban marched on Kabul – to arrange help for those who supported British troops.

It was initially reported the Afghan foreign ministry refused to arrange a call with a junior minister, pushing it back to the next day.

But a Foreign Office has confirmed that no one made the call. “Given the rapidly changing situation, it was not possible to arrange a call before the Afghan government collapsed,” a spokesman said.

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