Brexit LIVE: Von Der Leyen under pressure to deliver EU army ahead of crunch vote

Macron criticised over push for EU army by Italian MEP

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The European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell will give a statement on the humanitarian situation in the country this afternoon ahead of a vote on Thursday. But Manfred Weber, the head of the centre-right group in the European Parliament said the bloc should accelerate efforts to build up its own military capacity in the wake of the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban.

The European People’s Party MEP added: “Step by step, we need to build European capacities, such as a European reaction force with a few thousand men.”But Eurocrats said the vote will be on the humanitarian element of the Afghanistan crisis and the urgent need to continue evacuations.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Mr Borrell added: “In any case, we need an assessment report on the role of the European Union (EU) in Afghanistan and the dysfunctions that may have occurred over the past twenty years.

“I proposed it to my colleagues in the Council, in particular, to determine the reasons for the collapse of this Afghan army, which failed to defend its country against the Taliban.

”The Eurocrat has previously branded developments in Afghanistan “a catastrophe” and said there had been a failure of intelligence to anticipate the Taliban’s rapid return to power.

Mr Borrell said Europe had a “moral duty” to rescue as many Afghans as possible who had worked for the EU in Afghanistan, but said it would not be possible to get them all out.

Speaking earlier this month, he added: “Let me speak clearly and bluntly, this is a catastrophe.”It is a catastrophe for the Afghan people, for the Western values and credibility, and for the developing of international relations.”


8am update: UK’s ready for global trading, says Truss

Liz Truss will today call on British businesses to prepare for a post-Brexit boost in exports to Asian nations.

The International Trade Secretary says the UK is well placed to increase its sales with the world’s fastest growing economies.

In a speech she will say just one in 10 firms export overseas – but it should become “the norm”. Building trade links with eastern nations is expected to play a crucial role in levelling up the country by lowering prices and increasing wages.

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