image sourceEPAimage captionFamilies driven from their homes by the fighting have taken shelter in a public park

The withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan is Britain's biggest foreign policy disaster since the Suez crisis of 1956, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee has said.

Tory MP Tom Tugendhat criticised the foreign secretary for not making any statement as the Taliban advanced across the country in the last week.

It took every key city except the capital, Kabul, which is surrounded.

Mr Tugendhat said the UK has "abandoned the Afghan people".

The BBC understands that Parliament will sit on Wednesday after a Downing Street source said the prime minister is expected to recall MPs to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

Labour's shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said it had been "clear for days" there had been a "catastrophic miscalculation" by the US and UK, who overestimated the strength of Afghanistan's government.

"It beggars belief that in the face of all that, the [UK] government has been so slow to respond. What we need to hear now is an actual strategy from the government," she said.

  • Follow live updates on Afghanistan
  • Taliban control all key Afghan cities except Kabul
  • UK scholarships for Afghan students paused

Mr Tugendhat compared the Afghanistan withdrawal to the UK's failed invasion of Egypt in 1956, intended to regain control of the Suez canal, which is seen by many historians as marking the end of Britain's role as a major world power.

"We haven't heard from the foreign secretary in about a week, despite this being the biggest single foreign policy disaster since Suez, so I don't know what the Foreign Office is thinking," he told the BBC.

media captionUK shadow foreign secretary: withdrawing troops was a "catastrophic miscalculation"

He said the pull-out in Afghanistan showed a lack of "strategic patience", stripped the Afghan army of their logistics and air support and "convinced them there was no tomorrow".

That emboldened Taliban militants, allowing them to sweep through many major cities, he suggested.

Kabul is now the last city in government hands, with the Taliban saying fighters are ordered to stay at the city's entry points as they negotiate a peaceful transfer of power.

The Foreign Office has advised more than 4,000 British citizens thought to be in Afghanistan to leave and on Thursday said it would send 600 troops to help with the departure of Britons, Afghan staff and interpreters.

Why is there a war in Afghanistan?

After 20 years of war, foreign forces are pulling out of Afghanistan following a deal between the US and the Taliban militants they removed from power back in 2001.

The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions.

The Taliban has pledged not to allow Afghanistan to become a base for terrorists who could threaten the West.

But the country's hardline former rulers have quickly gained territory in recent weeks from Afghan army soldiers, who are now being left to protect a fragile government.

The Taliban also made a pledge for national peace talks, but many fear a worsening civil war remains a far more likely outcome.

Read more about the origins of the conflict

Mr Tugendhat said it was "shameful" of Nato not to evacuate all the Afghan people who served alongside British forces.

Interpreters and guards, Afghans trained as special forces, people who set up schools for girls and helped NGOs are "all at risk now", he said.

He said: "The danger is that we're going to see every female MP murdered, we're going to see ministers strung up on streetlamps and this is the decision I'm afraid that has been taken."

The Home Office said 3,300 Afghan staff who worked for the UK had already been resettled with their families.

"Home Office officials are right now working to protect British nationals and help former UK staff and other eligible people travel to the UK," a spokesperson said.

image sourceGetty Imagesimage captionInterpreters who worked for British forces protested on Friday, demanding protection from the Taliban

But 35 Afghans due to start scholarships at UK universities within weeks have been told their places have been suspended because their visas cannot be arranged in time.

Naimatullah Zafary, who lives in Kabul, told the BBC: "My daughter was asking me yesterday, are the Taliban coming and are they killing her? I said, no, they are not killing her. She is six-and-a-half years old, can you imagine?"

Chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, Tobias Ellwood, said the UK should have the courage to "stand up and say 'this is the wrong call' and lead a coalition, or attempt to lead a coalition" to address the crisis.

"This is a humiliating strategic defeat for the West that we will regret," he told the BBC.

"We have a very messy and unpredictable number of months and years ahead – unless we recognise what a gargantuan mistake it has been to withdraw our troops."