Nick Cohen

Boris is gone. What now for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe?

Boris is gone. What now for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe?
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What’s one woman’s life worth as the great battles about Brexit rage? Nothing at all, apparently, as Boris Johnson’s indifference towards the fate of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe shows.

The British mother is, you will recall, being held in an Iranian prison on trumped up spying charges. She says she was just visiting Iran, and there is no reason to disbelieve her. Johnson took it upon himself to risk provoking the country's religious dictatorship into extending her sentence when he told a parliamentary committee that she had been in Iran to train journalists.

He later apologised in the Commons, retracting ‘any suggestion she was there in a professional capacity’. But the damage was done, and in any case, who expects good old Boris to master the detail of diplomacy or Brexit or anything at all? He comes up with the gags and postures. The little people must live with the consequences.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe's friends and family said in a statement today that they had been trying to persuade him to make amends by providing Nazanin with diplomatic protection. They were expecting an announcement within days. But Johnson decided on Monday that he could not live with an agreement he had made with the Prime Minister on Friday, and resigned.

'The resignation came at an unfortunate time for Nazanin,' the family said. 'Since last week the file for the Foreign Secretary’s final decision on providing Nazanin diplomatic protection had been finalised by FCO staff and put on the Foreign Secretary’s desk. We had been hoping for a decision this week. However, the resignation came before this decision was made.'

'We have been informed that a decision will no longer happen imminently. A period of time will likely be required by the new Foreign Secretary to be fully briefed across his whole portfolio, and then the file will need to be re-submitted after some time with our request again that Nazanin be protected. This new delay is an unfortunate consequence of the resignation.”

I do not know a single journalist or politician who regards Johnson’s resignation as principled. He resigned because he feared David Davis would supplant him as the leader of the Tory right if he stayed.

He could have waited a few days. He could have found the sense of honour to tidy up at least one of the messes he had made in his time in office. But, as always, he put his career before his country and his duty. Johnson walked out to face the cameras, leaving her to face the prison guards.

Nazanin was allowed to call her husband from Evin Prison this morning. She said

“I can’t believe it – what is going on in that country? I am so worried – worried that the new Foreign Secretary will need to spend months first reading the file, and then wanting to build relations, and then make new visits. And I am left waiting.”