But Lib Dem Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Layla Moran suggested the pair settle the squabble by both giving it up, and letting Afghan interpreters live there instead
Liz Truss and Dominic Raab have been urged to put to rest a reported row over a taxpayer-funded mansion, by handing it to Afghan interpreters.
Ms Truss, the new Foreign Secretary, and Mr Raab, who she replaced in the top job, are reportedly at war over who gets access to country pile Chevening.
The estate is traditionally the country residence of the Foreign Secretary, but Mr Raab is said to have insisted on clinging on to the property – a claim Ms Truss thinks is “ridiculous”, according to an ally.
“Liz thinks Dom’s claim is completely spurious, that he’s being ridiculous,” the ally told the Times.
“Chevening is for the use of the foreign secretary.”
But sources close to Mr Raab say the pair have agreed to “share” the property in the future.
But Lib Dem Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Layla Moran suggested the pair settle the squabble by both giving it up, and letting Afghan interpreters live there instead.
In a letter to the two top Tories, she noted the Government had secured fewer than half the homes needed to house resettled interpreters.
Chevening has 115 rooms – and if it was converted into 5-room apartments, it would house up to 23 Afghan families of four.
Ms Moran told the Mirror: “This tone deaf row tells you all you need to know about Dominic Raab and Liz Truss’ priorities. Meanwhile, Afghan interpreters who served alongside our troops are being left in limbo by the Tories, languishing in often crowded temporary accommodation.
Rather than squabble amongst themselves, Raab and Truss should set a powerful example by helping to house the brave Afghans who served our country.”
She added: “Surely there is no better use for Chevening than as a home for there courageous people and their families, while the Government gets its act together.”
The letter in full
Dear Foreign Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister,
I write with concern regarding Chevening.
There have been significant reports in the media that you are both engaged in a dispute regarding use of the 3,000 acre property. Most recently, a report in The Times today claimed that, “Liz Truss thinks Dominic Raab is “ridiculous” for attempting to “cling on” to Chevening”. The Prime Minister has reportedly addressed this disagreement, stating that, “[t]hese types of questions, we will address in due course.’
I therefore am writing to offer a potential solution to this issue. We are currently looking to resettle several thousand Afghan interpreters and other locally employed staff in accommodation across the country. Figures have already shown that, as of earlier this month, the Government had secured less than half the homes needed to house the resettled interpreters. Local authorities across the country stand ready and waiting to open their doors to interpreters and refugees – but the Government’s failure to provide a proper funding settlement risks leaving brave Afghans in limbo.
Sadly, many Afghan families face long waits in temporary accommodation. There are reports of families stuck in quarantine hotels, even after their self-isolation period has ended. These interpreters put their lives on the line to support British troops in Afghanistan. It is absolutely vital that the Government meets its obligations to them after they have done so much to assist our efforts in Afghanistan over two decades.
Chevening has 115 rooms. If the house were to be converted into 5-room apartments, that would house 23 Afghan families of four – close to 100 people. It is hard to overstate the difference that might make. Rather than waiting for weeks on end, stuck in hotel rooms or other temporary accommodation, I urge you to house interpreters and their families at Chevening on a temporary basis.
When the Prime Minister launched Operation Warm Welcome in August, he rightly promised to harness the “generosity of spirit” shown by charities, businesses and the public in welcoming and supporting Afghans arriving into the UK. As Government Ministers, I would urge you to lead by example, put your differences aside and do the right thing. It’s time for the UK Government to step up and deliver on the promises it made to Afghans when the relocation scheme was launched.
I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible.
Layla Moran MP
Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Foreign Affairs