Johnson hiding on Iran?

The prime minister took a long time to show his face

Financial Times

Boris Johnson urges Trump to 'de-escalate' tension with Iran

Boris Johnson on Sunday urged Donald Trump to "de-escalate" tension with Iran to avert a conflagration in the Middle East, but gave implicit British support to the US president's decision to assassinate Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

The British prime minister returned from a New Year break in the Caribbean facing an immediate test of his claim that he could be a "bridge" between Washington and Europe in the west's handling of Iran.

Mr Johnson held talks with Mr Trump, agreeing with the US president that Soleimani "posed a threat to all our interests and was responsible for a pattern of disruptive, destabilising behaviour" in the Middle East.

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Did Boris Johnson hide from the Iran crisis?

By Joe Harker

When trouble strikes people look to their leaders for guidance.

When the US killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and Iranian airstrikes hit a military base in Iraq where US troops were stationed it looked like tensions were rising in a precarious region.

While we know what many leaders thought the absence of Boris Johnson was sorely felt in the UK, did he hide from a tough situation?

The Claim:

The Daily Mirror reports that the prime minister was slated for not showing up to an MPs debate on Tuesday night.

Until PMQs yesterday Johnson had not been seen in public in 2020 and was last spotted at the St Lucia airport in the Caribbean, prompting concerns that the prime minister was still on holiday at a time of crisis.

While it may be disruptive, politicians are expected to cut their holidays short and return home if things start going wrong and Johnson's lack of an appearance until he had to show himself drew criticism.

Defence secretary Ben Wallace had to defend the prime minister's absence, saying Johnson's belief in cabinet government meant people equipped to handle the UK's response were still around.

Wallace also said Johnson had been "in charge of the overall government response", though many others were unconvinced by his lack of appearances.

The Counter Claim:

Johnson did say he wanted US president Donald Trump to "de-escalate" the tension with Iran, echoing the leaders of other European nations who also backed calming the situation down.

The prime minister said of Soleimani that "we will not lament his death", citing the deaths of civilians and military personnel in operations Johnson claimed had been directed by the Iranian general.

Johnson did give a response and once he eventually had to show his face at PMQs he said Soleimani "has British blood on his hands".

The prime minster's message is that Soleimani was a bad man who deserved his punishment but the US and Iran should now move to de-escalate the conflict and prevent further bloodshed.

The Facts:

Qassem Soleimani was killed by an airstrike from a US drone at Baghdad airport in Iraq, in retaliation Iran made a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base where US troops were stationed.

There has been an attack and retaliation, only time will tell whether the US and Iran will settle down into a tense stalemate having struck each other or whether they will continue to attack one another and the conflict will spiral into war.

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