Note: I wrote this for The Nopebook back in November 2017. I’m publishing it here, now, because Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is facing fresh charges from the Iranian government and when I searched for a link to the original article the site wasn’t there. I may well be putting more of my Nopebook articles here in the near future.
But back to Johnson, far from being sacked for incompetence, Johnson is now our PM and the only thing that’s changed is that he has more power to make mistakes than back when I wrote this. He’s dangerous, he should not be in power.
Well, we all knew BoJo was a bumbling, arrogant, fool really – didn’t we?
In the ‘What Has One Of Theresa May’s Minister’s Done Now?’ stakes, Boris Johnson, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, is racing ahead of the competition by endangering British Citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
We have the Foreign Secretary, the person who is supposed to intercede for, look after, and just generally protect British Citizens and their interests abroad, saying something so wrong (that would be factually incorrect as well as highly inadvisable) that it puts 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 such a heinous 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.
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 why 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 STP (seriously, if you ever want to cheer me up then that’s one sure-fire way to do it).
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 less than 3 weeks is a very short space of time to try and topple a regime, even for a woman. Especially with a demanding (I’m going by my knowledge of toddlers here, not any specific knowledge of the child in question) 3-year-old in tow, so I’m going to go with the reason for her visit being a visit to family, which is exactly what Boris Johnson should have said.
What he did instead was to claim that she had been training journalists, which is bound to inflame tensions when dealing with regimes such as Iran which actively persecutes journalists. It was a really, really, stupid and dangerous thing to say. Not only is it stupid and dangerous, but it’s also about as likely as the trying to topple the regime theory. Again, she was in the country for little more than two weeks, over a holiday period, with aforementioned child, and she was supposed to have done what – set up, run, and concluded a training course for journalists? It doesn’t make any sense.
What does make sense is that she used to work as an administrator 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, and he’s done some similarly faulty maths in his head, and simply not realised that saying Mrs 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.
Boris Johnson should never have been made Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
He should not remain Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs any longer.
PS When I wrote that Johnson shouldn’t remain Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs I didn’t mean make him sodding PM. For goodness sake.