- Boris Johnson rules out supporting the US in possible military action in Iran.
- "If you were to ask me whether I think should we now, if I were to be prime minister now, would I be supporting military action against Iran, then the answer is no," he says.
- However, the UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt also warns that the US and Iran risk triggering an "accidental war."
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Boris Johnson has warned Donald Trump that he will not support US-led military strikes against Iran, as tensions between Washington and London deepened following the row over the departure of Britain’s US ambassador.
Speaking at a leadership debate on Monday evening, Johnson said that Western administrations should instead focus on diplomatic solutions to prevent the Iranian regime building a nuclear weapon.
Asked if he would back the US on military intervention, Johnson said: "I’m going to be very candid with you all tonight. If you say that going to war with Iran now represents a sensible option for us in the west, I just don’t believe it is."
He added: "Diplomacy must be the best way forward. If you were to ask me whether I think should we now, if I were to be prime minister now, would I be supporting military action against Iran, then the answer is no."
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the other candidate to replace Theresa May, said he was "on exactly the same page" as Johnson on the issue of Iran, and warned that there was a risk of "accidental war" in the region. He added that there was a "small window" of hope for preventing the Iran nuclear deal from unraveling entirely, following Donald Trump’s decision last year to axe it.
Darroch, the UK ambassador who resigned, said in a second batch of leaked memos that Trump had spiked the Iran nuclear deal in an act of "diplomatic vandalism" to spite his predecessor, Barack Obama.
Johnson’s comments come after the former foreign secretary was last week accused of trying to cosy up to Trump when he refused to back Sir Kim Darroch, the UK ambassador in Washington, whose biting criticisms of the US President were leaked to a newspaper.
Trump called Darroch "pompous" and "a very stupid guy" in a series of tweets, which Johnson refused to condemn, ultimately leading to Darroch’s resignation.
Darroch told friends that Johnson’s refusal to back him was a factor in his resignation, leading some of Johnson’s colleagues to accuse him of throwing the ambassador "under a bus."
Johnson’s latest intervention comes against a backdrop of heightened tensions in the Gulf. A British Navy warship last week drove off Iranian patrol boats which were approaching a British tanker as it sailed through the Strait of Hormuz, the latest in a series of military incidents which some believe could lead to all-out war.
The US government and Iran have repeatedly insisted they do not intend to start a war, but Trump has said that military action remains an option, despite cancelling a planned airstrike after Iran shot down an American drone last month.
Both Hunt and Johnson also condemned a series of tweets sent by Trump in which he suggested that four US congresswomen, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, should return to the "broken and crime infested places from which they came."
Johnson called the tweets unacceptable. "When you are the leader of a great multiracial, multicultural society, you simply can’t use that sort of language about sending people back," he said. "I mean that went out decades and decades ago — and thank heavens for that."
Hunt agreed, describing the comments as "totally offensive."
The winner of the Conservative leadership contest will be announced next week, after which they will be installed in Downing Street as prime minister by the end of the month.
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