Britain will struggle to recruit interpreters in future conflict zones if it “hangs out to dry” those who helped troops in Afghanistan, a senior Tory MP has warned.
Dr Julian Lewis, chairman of the Commons defence committee, warned ministers that a refusal to offer shelter to some former interpreters could have damaging repercussions for the military in years to come.
He spoke as his committee wrote to the Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, urging him to allow up to 200 Afghan translators to be allowed to live in the UK.
It is the latest salvo in a long-running row over the Government’s refusal to grant them asylum to those who helped in military operations there before 2012.
Dr Lewis told the Telegraph: “There is an obligation on us, firstly to pay a debt of honour to those people who have marked themselves out for danger in the future following our departure.
“But secondly there is an obligation to the armed forces of the future who may have to operate in theatres where they will be dependent on finding local people to act as interpreters.
“They will struggle to do this in future if we have shown to have out to dry our former interpreters in Afghanistan once we had no more use for their services.”
In July, the former interpreters lost a High Court battle to access a Government assistance scheme that is not available to staff who left British employment before December 2012.
The terms of the scheme means interpreters who completed their duties between 2006 and 2012 are not eligible for refuge in the UK unless they can prove they face violence from the Taliban in their home country.
The defence committee’s letter to Mr Fallon said it was "wholly unacceptable” to not offer shelter to “proven friends and allies” who now “live in constant fear of their lives.”