Tobias Ellwood ‘QUITS as Defence Committee chair’ after revolt by MPs who branded him a ‘f***ing idiot’ over ‘Taliban propaganda’ video
- Tory visited Kabul in the summer and praised ‘vastly improved’ security situation
Former minister Tobias Ellwood is said to have quit as Commons defence committee chairman today after sparking fury with a ‘Taliban propaganda video’.
An insider told MailOnline the Tory MP is stepping down after failing to convince colleagues he should keep the prestigious role at a meeting this afternoon. There has not been any formal announcement yet.
Opponents had been planning to stage a vote as early as tomorrow when a ten-day notice period for tabling a no-confidence motion will end.
Four members of the committee had called a formal vote on sacking the former minister despite him apologising and deleting extraordinary footage of a trip to Afghanistan this summer.
In the social media video, Mr Ellwood praised the ‘vastly improved’ security situation and urged the restoration of diplomatic ties.
Colleagues laid into Tobias Ellwood for posting a ‘wish you were here’ clip talking about his visit to Afghanistan
Tories Mark Francois and Richard Drax have tabled the no-confidence motion in Mr Ellwood, along with Labour’s Kevan Jones and Derek Twigg
Mr Ellwood admitted he ‘got it wrong’ and his positive messages about the new regime, which has stripped women of rights and been accused of persecuting opponents, could have been ‘better worded’.
But members branded him a ‘f*****g idiot’ and said he could not continue as chairman – a post which brings a £17,000 a year salary bump on top of his £86,500 MP pay.
The no-confidence motion was tabled on July 19 by Tories Mark Francois and Richard Drax, along with Labour’s Kevan Jones and Derek Twigg.
It is believed to be the first time the mechanism has been used since elections for chairs were introduced in 2010.
Under Commons procedural rules, ten days has to expire between a no-confidence motion being tabled and it being endorsed by members – either unanimously or through a vote.
If the motion had been passed by the committee the Speaker would have declared the chair vacant. MPs then elect a replacement, with that ballot having to happen at least 10 sitting days later.
In his apology, the former soldier said: ‘However well intentioned, reflections of my personal visit could have been better worded.
‘I am sorry for my poor communication. I stand up, speak my mind, try to see the bigger picture and offer solutions, especially on the international stage, as our world turns a dangerous corner.
‘I don’t always get it right.’
Mr Ellwood, pictured in 2015, has served as a full-time soldier and more recently a reservist
Mr Ellwood said losing his brother in the 2002 Bali bombing drew him to visit Afghanistan ‘many times over the last decade’.
‘During my visit last week, I witness something I did not expect to see – an eerie calm and a visible change in security, corruption and opium growth which I felt obliged to report,’ he said.
‘But I also saw a very vulnerable economy that will soon collapse without international intervention, turning this country into a failed state with terrorist camps no doubt returning and triggering mass migration.
‘I also saw the increasing restrictions on women and girls. This suggests our current strategy of shouting from afar, after abruptly abandoning the country in 2021, is not working.
‘My simple call to action was to see our embassy reopen again and pursue a more direct strategy to help the 40million people that we abandoned.’