- Tobias Ellwood Resigns as Chairman of the Commons Defense Committee
- Controversial Video Praising Taliban Leadership Leads to Calls for Resignation
- The Impact and Uncertain Succession of the Committee Chair Position
The Conservative representative “resigned before he was pushed” after a video appeared to show him praising the Taliban.
After criticism for a social media video, Commons defence committee chairman Tobias Ellwood resigned.
The Conservative MP, who had been the chair of the cross-party group since 2020, came under pressure to resign after sharing the video on X, formerly known as Twitter, in which he appeared to praise the Taliban’s leadership in Afghanistan.
Within days, four committee members filed a motion of no confidence against him – the first time this measure to remove a committee chair had been used – and a vote was expected by Thursday.
Mr. Ellwood said he reached the decision with “deep regret” and was “proud of the incisive investigations” by the committee.
“I believe I have a strong voice when it comes to defense and security,” he added. I speak up, see the larger picture, and provide solutions, especially internationally, as the globe turns a dangerous turning.
“Because I don’t always get it right, it’s only fair that I raise my hand when I don’t.”
The senior backbencher confessed to “poor communications” regarding the video, stating that it was “understandably criticized at the time and negatively reflected on the committee.”
He added, “Although I believe I retained the majority of the committee’s support, the committee’s dynamic and effectiveness would not be the same, and it would be a distraction if everyone in the room did not support the chair.”
In July, fewer than two years after the Taliban retook Afghanistan, Mr. Ellwood posted his trip video.
Since their return, the Taliban have reinstated prohibitions on girls’ education and enacted legislation prohibiting women from working, as well as outlawing women’s beauty salons and prohibiting their presence in public areas such as parks and gyms.
In the recording, the Conservative lawmaker, whose brother was murdered by Islamist extremists, stated that the “war-weary nation” was now “accepting a more authoritarian leadership in exchange for stability.”
“If the EU’s embassy can open, so can ours,” he urged the United Kingdom to reopen its embassy in Afghanistan.
And he said: “Shouting from afar will not improve women’s rights.”
After a massive backlash from politicians, human rights activists, and women’s groups, Mr. Ellwood issued an apology, stating that his “reflections” after a “personal visit” to Afghanistan “could have been phrased more effectively.”
However, he appeared to defend some of his initial statements, reiterating that “our current strategy of shouting from afar after abruptly abandoning the country in 2021 is ineffective.”
Mr. Ellwood argued, “My simple call to action was to reopen our embassy and pursue a more direct strategy to assist the forty million people we abandoned.”
It is currently unclear who will succeed Mr. Ellwood as committee chair.