Boris Johnson under renewed fire over Iran comments

Michael Gove
Credit
Reuters

"The rest of the world turn round to us and they say 'why on earth would you have this man as your foreign secretary.' I mean, diplomacy is meant to be the heart and soul of the job, not wandering around the world playing around with your hair and trying to look affectionately like a member of Hogwarts".

The pair are due to have a conversation on Sunday - the first direct contact between the two since Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was first incarcerated in April 2016 while on holiday in Iran visiting her family with her two-year-old daughter Gabriella.

Earlier this month, she was summoned back to court and threatened with further charges after Mr Johnson mistakenly told a Commons committee that she had been training journalists at the time of her arrest.

On Saturday she was taken to Iranmehr hospital, Tehran, to see a specialist for an ultrasound on her breasts. It follows a previous inconclusive mammogram.

Shadow Foreign secretary Emily Thornberry condemned Mr Johnson for days of "obfuscation and bluster" where he failed to clarify his comments, as she urged him to state "simply and unequivocally" that he got it wrong.

"Her husband said she was there on holiday, and her husband is the person who should know". "No evidence has been produced which suggests she should be detained".

He said: "Nazanin is being held because she is British and is being used as a bargaining chip against the United Kingdom, now justified by your words".

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Ratcliffe told the BBC he hoped he could travel to Iran with Johnson to meet his wife.

"Boris Johnson's cavalier approach to worldwide diplomacy is compounded this morning by Michael Gove claiming he has no idea what Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was doing in Iran".

A Labour MP has ridiculed Boris Johnson over his handling of the Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe affair, adding that Theresa May is like a "hostage" in her attempts to deal with this "blundering fool".

"He should be focusing on getting this poor woman home to her family, not looking to protect himself with anonymous briefings to journalists".

Tory backbencher Anna Soubry said "in "normal" times Boris Johnson would have been sacked long ago". He was very clear in what he said and he was wrong.

She said: "If my constituent spends even one more day in prison as a result of what the Foreign Secretary said then he should resign".

"The fault, of course, is with the Iranians, but the primary duty of all government is to protect its citizens and keep us safe, especially your Foreign Secretary".

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