It is time for Theresa May to face the fact that Boris Johnson is incompetent and ignorant and must be removed from the government.

We all enjoyed the distraction when Priti Patel flew back to the UK from Africa to resign her own Cabinet post, but the controversy over Mr Johnson’s handling of the Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe case has been thickening in the meantime.

Let’s recap:

On November 1, before the Commons foreign affairs committee, Mr Johnson referred to the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a woman of joint UK-Iranian citizenship who has been serving a five-year prison sentence in Iran since April 2016 on a charge of involvement in “propaganda against the regime”, saying that she had been “simply teaching people journalism”. As a result, she was hauled up before an Iranian court over the weekend and told she could face another five years in prison, with Mr Johnson’s words used as evidence against her.

On November 7, Mr Johnson had to make a statement about the case in the House of Commons. In it, he absolutely refused to take any responsibility for the potential doubling of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s jail sentence.

He said he had spoken to his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, and told Zarif that the government’s view is that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was just in Iran on holiday. He said that, when he spoke to the Commons foreign affairs committee last week, he was trying to make the point that, even if Zaghari-Ratcliffe was training journalists, that would not have justified her detention – but added: “I accept that my remarks could have been clearer in that respect.”

He was right – but only because his remarks last week were nothing like his claim about them to the Commons. He said: “When I look at what Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was doing, she was simply teaching people journalism, as I understand it.” He did not say her detention would not have been justified even if she was training journalists.

He said Zarif told him that recent judicial developments in Iran relating to Zaghari-Ratcliffe had nothing to do with his remarks. But reports have suggested the opposite.

Here’s a quick video covering the debate on November 7:

And this came from Iranian TV the following day:

I’m sorry that there are no subtitles, but it is clear that Mr Johnson’s comments have been taken as proof that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe had committed a crime in that country and deserved to be imprisoned.

Mr Johnson’s refusal to retract his statement and apologise for it can only have been taken as additional evidence in support of this stance.

Now he is facing increased calls for his resignation amid reports that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was reduced to tears of despair after hearing of his blunder.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe has put in a formal request to meet Mr Johnson in order to discuss her case. All things considered, it seems unlikely that she will give him an easy time of it.

And Mr Johnson also has critics in his own party, with one senior MP calling him a “f***ing disgrace”, according to Channel 4 News reporter Michael Crick.

The following tweet suggests that Mr Johnson is still in post because his blunder does not affect the government – just an ordinary citizen in a foreign country. Meaning: Theresa May doesn’t care about ordinary people. That could be more damaging than the Patel affair.

He has to go – and it is just a matter of time until he does.

When it does happen, take careful note of whether he is sacked – or allowed to resign, as happened with Priti Patel.

The difference, This Writer is told, is that a sacked minister loses their right to their ministerial pension; when they resign, they don’t.

So these vile creatures are still on a nice little earner, even in disgrace.


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