Jeremy Hunt insists on holding the UK’s policy on Iran hostage to Donald Trump and the bellicose warmonger, national security advisor John Bolton. The foreign secretary and prime minister contender treats the allegations that Iran is behind the attacks on the oil tankers in Oman Sea as a non-negotiable reality. Yet the evidence has yet to be introduced.
In a country where all the potential future leaders are involved in a farcical marathon to show who is capable of being more Trump than the others, Hunt’s spur-of-the-moment policy will make the president the de-facto commander-in-chief of British foreign relations. If the American president would be the person sitting in 10 Downing Street now, would you recognise a difference?
Jeremy Hunt’s off the cuff approach to the brewing crisis in the Middle East is dragging the UK towards a severe break from policies maintained by the EU since signing the nuclear deal, known as The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), with Iran in 2015. The UK is “Brexiting” this agreement, except now there is no parliament to pull the brakes.
Since Trump’s state visit to the UK earlier this month, the foreign office has given indications that this flimsy Tory government no longer have faith in the nuclear deal and is ready, more than ever, to end the Europeans’ Herculean task to keep the agreement in place.
The nuclear deal will soon be dead in the water. And as if to confirm it, Iran today stated that it would break its uranium stockpile limit set by the nuclear deal in 10 days’ time.
Britain’s deviation on Iran sends a clear message to the Europeans that the UK is an “American aircraft carrier” in the Atlantic; always ready to kowtow to the US when needed. In a historical moment where the country needs to be rebuilding trust with Europe, it simply stabs them in the back on another strategic issue. EU foreign ministers met on Monday to push back on Trump’s gamble with fire. They appear unconvinced of Trump and Hunt’s stance.
If the no-deal wacky dreamers, who are busy rubbing their hands together at the prospect of becoming prime minister intend to thrust the UK towards a no-deal policy on Iran too, we will eventually drift towards another Iraq war. Blairism is back.
A major tenet of Blair’s foreign policy was his close political ties to the US. Post-Iraq, this “special relationship” came under increasing scrutiny both at home and abroad.
Now, with Hunt’s words, we see its return. The desperation by all the Tory candidates to receive the Trump seal of approval has led to the cravenness Blair was so heavily criticised for.
But what the Tories don’t understand is this: while they view seeing through Brexit – with our without a deal – as the antidote to their decline, kowtowing to the delusions of Trump, Bolton and Pompeo on Iran would be unequivocally disastrous.
Iran could be the second Suez. An all-out war in the gulf today would risk crippling the US empire and its hegemonic position as leader of the west. The whole Middle East will be set ablaze. The UK would do well to steer clear.
There is another way. Pre-Trump, the US sat at the table with the Iranians, signing an historic deal that did so much to quell previous tensions. It can be done. Trump pulled out of the agreement last year – but he must now give his diplomats a chance to stave off a looming military collision.
Maybe, just maybe, the UK could also get involved to calm tensions. Changing Iran's malicious behaviour should be the ultimate goal for politicians in the US and the UK. War will never be the answer.
If Jeremy Hunt wants to boost his credentials, perhaps getting the Americans and Iranians back to the table would be the best use of his time, rather than agitating for conflict. He should leave that kind of stuff to Boris – it suits him more.