Well, we all knew Boris Johnson was a bumbling, arrogant, dangerous man – didn’t we?

In the ‘What Has One Of Theresa May’s Minister’s Done Now?’ sweepstakes, Boris Johnson, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, is racing ahead of the competition by endangering British Citizen, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.  

Yes, that’s right. The Foreign Secretary — the person who is supposed to intercede for, look after, and just generally protect British Citizens and their interests abroad — has said something so wrong that it’s put a vulnerable person in further danger.  

This ought to be a sackable offence. I nearly said that, back in the days of ministerial responsibility being taken seriously, a Foreign Secretary who made such a gaffe would have resigned – but it’s highly unlikely they would have made the gaffe in the first place. It’s not so much a case of Boris Johnson failing to recognise the need to fall on his sword, as him not being equipped with the necessary cold steel in the first place.  

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was in Iran, visiting her family — as you would when you have dual citizenship and relatives in the country — when she was arrested, convicted, and imprisoned for allegedly ‘plotting to topple the Iranian regime’.

She was arrested on 3rd April 2016 as she was about to leave the country with her 3-year-old daughter, after celebrating Nowruz (Persian New Year) with her family. She’d arrived on 17th March 2016 and, I don’t know about you, but I think even for a woman that’s a very short space of time to try and topple a regime, especially with a toddler in tow. Any reasonable person knows this. But not Boris Johnson, apparently.

“Boris Johnson is a veritable loose cannon.”

No, Boris Johnson claimed that she had been in Iran training journalists. It was not only a really, really, stupid and dangerous thing to say, given with tensions with and nature of the regime in Iran, but it’s also about as likely as the trying to topple the regime theory. She was in the country for little more than two weeks, over a holiday period, with a child. What was she supposed to have done? Set up, run, and conclude a training course for journalists? It doesn’t make any sense.  

What does make sense is that she used to work for BBC Media Action, an international development charity, and that organisation has links to a BBC training course that was offered to Iranian journalists. Some of those journalists were, apparently, then arrested for participating in a foreign-run training course back in 2014. It seems that the Iranian government has put 2 of nothing together with 1 of not a lot and come up with what they think is a crime.  

If I had to guess, then I’d say that Boris Johnson has done a Trump and not paid attention properly in a briefing, because he thinks he’s too smart to need to pay full attention. Or he’s done some similarly faulty maths in his head, and not realised that saying Zaghari-Ratcliffe was in Iran ‘simply teaching people journalism’ was exactly what he shouldn’t say. The fact that he did is unforgivable, and the fact that he initially refused to withdraw the statement or clarify his meaning, and the Foreign Office tried to deny he ever said it, despite transcripts, is just so beyond the pale that I’m not even sure where we go from here.  

As bad as his mistake has been — and let’s be utterly clear on this, it’s very, very bad indeed – it is also unfathomable as to how Theresa May has not got rid of him yet. Or even, how she managed to think it was a good idea to give him the job in the first place.  

The man is a veritable loose cannon. He has been in trouble for saying, doing, or writing, the wrong thing more times than I’ve had sticky toffee pudding – and I really, really love sticky toffee pudding

Boris Johnson should never have been made Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and he most certainly should not remain Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs any longer

Image by Dianna Bonner for Financial Times

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