The GuardianThe Guardian

Boris Johnson’s betrayal of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe shows us who he really is

By Jonathan Freedland

12 Nov 2021 · 4 min read

Boris Johnson should look Richard Ratcliffe in the eye. If he did, he would catch a reflection of himself that might prove painful but illuminating. For contained in his handling, and fateful mishandling, of the case of Richard’s wife, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, is almost every aspect of the Johnson modus operandi. It is a parable of the prime minister’s approach to politics – and to other human beings.

Ratcliffe is in the last stages of a hunger strike that has seen him camped outside the Foreign Office for 20 days and nights, weak, dizzy and shivering from cold. His wife has been detained in Iran since April 2016, and he wants her back home. There are other UK nationals held in Iran, including Anoosheh Ashoori and Morad Tahbaz, but it’s Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case that implicates Johnson specifically – and says so much about him.

Sign in to informed

  • Curated articles from premium publishers, ad-free
  • Concise Daily Briefs with quick-read summaries
  • Read, listen, save for later, or enjoy offline
  • Enjoy personalized content