The leading elements of the 600-man British force sent to evacuate the remaining British nationals were in the capital, fearing this could happen within days, if not hours.
As a sign of the speed of the collapse, arrangements were reportedly made to remove British Ambassador Sir Laurie Bristow from the country, although government sources said on Sunday morning that he would remain to oversee the evacuation.
Amid a rushed race for safety, helicopters were also seen landing at the United States Embassy to transport the remaining staff.
A number ten source said the prime minister is expected to recall parliament this week to “discuss the situation in Afghanistan.” The timing has yet to be confirmed with President Sir Lindsay Hoyle.
The move coincided with calls from Sir Keir Starmer, the Labor leader, to recall Parliament for MPs to discuss the worsening crisis in Afghanistan.
Sir Keir said: “The situation in Afghanistan is deeply shocking and seems to be getting worse by the hour. The immediate priority must now be to safely exit all British and support personnel from Kabul.
“We need Parliament to be recalled so that the government can brief MPs on how it plans to work with its allies to avoid a humanitarian crisis and a return to the days when Afghanistan was a base for extremists whose purpose will be to threaten our interests, our values and our national security. . “
In the UK, many MPs were deeply unhappy with the way – 20 years after the first international forces entered Afghanistan – the country was left to its fate.
House of Commons Foreign Affairs Chairman Tom Tugendhat said it was “the biggest foreign policy disaster” since Suez, while Defense Committee Chairman Tobias Ellwood, said it was a humiliation for the West.
Despite the Biden administration’s decision to withdraw the remaining US troops that sparked the collapse, Mr Ellwood said it was not yet too late to turn the situation around.
He called for the Royal Navy Carrier Strike Group to be sent to the region and urged the prime minister to call an emergency conference of “like-minded nations” to see what could be done.
“I beg the Prime Minister to think again. We have an increasingly narrowing window of opportunity to recognize where this country is going as a failed state, ”he told Times Radio.
“We can turn the tide, but it takes political will and courage. Now is the time for us to move forward. We could prevent that, or history will judge us very, very harshly for not intervening when we could do it and let the state fail. “
Rory Stewart, the former international development secretary, tweeted: “Too many commentators blame the Afghan government / people. It’s ours. We didn’t have to leave so recklessly and suddenly. Air support from the United States and NATO was vital, relatively low risk and sustainable. We could and should have had continued support. We are betraying Afghanistan.
“The UK is failing to meet its obligations to the tens of thousands of Afghan civilians who have worked alongside the UK – on the grounds that they are technically ‘contractors’ – all of this is shameful.
“The Taliban are in districts 5 and 12 in Kabul – near the center of town now and advancing. ”