Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab defended the Government’s intelligence from Afghanistan, saying Britain's “hearts go out” to the citizens of the nation. 

He said the UK had been tracking “very carefully” what was happening not just “for the last week” but since discussions started about the US withdrawal, which began last year.

Dominic Raab added that “no one” saw the situation in Afghanistan coming and the UK “would have taken action if we had”.

Raab also told Sky News he returned from his holiday “as soon as the situation deteriorated and demanded it”.

He said: “Everyone was caught off-guard by the pace, scale of the Taliban takeover," adding “the truth is, across the world, people were caught by surprise. I haven’t spoken to an international interlocutor, including countries in the region over the last week, who hasn’t been surprised.

“We saw a very swift change in the dynamics. And of course this has been part and parcel of the withdrawal of western troops, but it has also been the way and the approach of the Taliban and of course it’s been a test for the Afghan security forces.

"All of those factors have been very fluid. But no one saw this coming. Of course we would have taken action if we had.”

Asked if the UK should have seen this coming, he said: “I think it is easy to say that with the benefit of hindsight, but the truth is you are always measuring a very fluid constellation matrix, if you like of risk factors, and that is the reality.”

He said all foreign secretaries, “when we are abroad, whether it’s travel for work or for holiday, we are there able to respond to events. So I was engaged in Cobra, talking to foreign counterparts, directly speaking to the head of our team here in London, I was doing that on an hour-by-hour basis and, of course, I left as soon as the situation deteriorated and demanded it”.

READ MORE: Downing St defends Afghan withdrawal as MP calls for an apology

He added the situation in Afghanistan was being monitored, and “from my point of view, at any point in time, I will have eight to 10 simmering issues that can bubble up”.

He said: “We didn’t predict that we would be doing this on this scale because of the Taliban takeover. But look, in retrospect of course I wouldn’t have gone on holiday if I had known that would be the case.

“Equally, after 18 months and two years of a very gruelling, demanding schedule, I think it is right that people in those positions try and take some leave, but we are always ready, I’m always ready, to come back. And even when I was away, frankly I wouldn’t have gone away if I would have known that, I was constantly handling and managing meetings, talking to foreign counterparts, and because of technology, of course, able to engage in every one of the Cobra meetings.”

Mr Raab said that the situation in Kabul was stablising saying: “There has been a surge of US and UK troops. We have got 600 extra personnel there. It’s critically important not just for the stability on the ground for Afghans, but critically for our evacuation effort.

“We have made real progress, we had 150 British nationals come out on Sunday, over the last week we have also had 289 of those Afghan nationals who have served the UK so loyally in Afghanistan, and we expect over the next 24 hours to have 350 more both British nationals and Afghan nationals who have worked for us coming out.

“So the situation is stabilising, but obviously we are monitoring it very carefully.

READ MORE: Neil Mackay: Fall of Kabul is the beginning of the end of American power and twilight of the West

“I do think that the airport is more stable today than it was yesterday, and we need to make sure that we consolidate that in the days ahead.”

Speaking on BBC Breakfast he said: “I think you’re right we didn’t anticipate the scale or the rapidity of the deterioration of the situation. We thought it would happen more towards the autumn and much more gradually.

“Of course there is still this question of whether the civilian government that we saw in place before, the Afghan government, and the Taliban would come to some kind of arrangement.”