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Boris Johnson under fire for failure to respond to killing of Qassem Suleimani

3 min read

Boris Johnson has come under fire for his failure to respond to killing of Iranian military leader Qassem Suleimani by America.

The Prime Minister has been accused of a “deafening silence” on the unfolding crisis in the Middle East following the US drone strike at Baghdad airport on Friday.

And he has been criticised for failing to cut short his holiday to the island of Mustique with partner Carrie Symonds to deal with the fallout from the assassination, which the UK was not given warning of.

Downing Street said Mr Johnson would be back on Sunday, while the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will travel to Washington this week for talks with the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo. 

But Mr Pompeo has expressed unhappiness with a perceived lack of support for his country’s actions in taking out Suleimani, who is accused of masterminding attacks on western soldiers in Iraq as well as terrorist campaigns.

He said: “Frankly, the Europeans haven’t been as helpful as I wish that they could be.

“The Brits, the French, the Germans all need to understand that what we did, what the Americans did, saved lives in Europe as well.”

On Saturday night defence secretary Ben Wallace confirmed the Royal Navy was sending ships to accompany vessels through the Straits of Hormuz as he urged “all parties” to de-escalate rising tensions rise in the region.

The HMS Montrose frigate and the HMS Defender destroyer will return to the key stretch of water for oil passage, adding: “The government will take all necessary steps to protect our ships and citizens at this time.”

It comes as the Foreign Office hardened its travel advice by warning British nationals not to travel to Iraq, except for essential travel to the Kurdistan Region, and only essential travel to Iran.

But the PM was attacked by Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, who said it was “astonishing” he was yet to make a public statement on the situation.

In a piece for The Observer, she wrote: “Is he afraid of angering President Trump?

"Or is it simply that, as he lounges in the Caribbean sun, he simply does not care, an exact mirror of the blasé approach on Iran he took in his past role as foreign secretary when Trump was driving the nuclear deal to destruction in 2018, and when recklessly jeopardising the fate of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe the previous year.”

And the Liberal Democrat acting-leader Sir Ed Davey said: "Johnson's silence on Trump's dangerous assassination in Iraq is deafening.

"The Prime Minister must speak out now and make clear Britain will not support the US in repeating the mistake of the Iraq war."

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