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Iran Is Among Top Challenges Facing The New British Leader


Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks after being announced as the new leader of the Conservative Party in London, July 23, 2019

Conservative British politician Boris Johnson who is a strong proponent of Brexit and an ally of Donald Trump has been selected to replace Theresa May as prime minister.

Writing for Reuters, William James says that Johnson faces five top challenges as the new prime minister, including relations with other European countries, with the United States and tensions with Iran.

In fact, the two first challenges are closely related to his handling of Iran and its seizure of a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf.

The new prime minister has to show he can govern first, as the Labor Party and some conservative lawmakers will certainly vote differently in parliament than what Johnson would want.

Then, there is the Brexit challenge, which can get intermingled with the Iran riddle, as Johnson might need Europe’s support to put pressure on Tehran.

Allies are watching closely to see whether the new British leader will move towards the United States and away from the EU over Iran policy.

James argues in his analysis that the United States and Europe are pulling at different direction regarding the Iran nuclear agreement. As the U.S. insists on a new agreement, Europe so far has insisted the 2015 accord must be saved.

Johnson, who has a close relationship with President Donald Trump will be caught in the middle of this disagreement and has to balance his Brexit objectives with other issues such as Iran when it comes to his European relations.

On top of that, in the last days of May’s premiership the scandal of the British ambassador’s diplomatic messages broke out, which portrayed the Trump administration as inept. Trump reacted angrily and the ambassador resigned, but the British government defended the right of its diplomats to voice their views without any hindrance.

Now, will Trump demand some action from Boris Johnson, whose win in the contest for prime minister he quickly congratulated?

Johnson’s first moves will set the tone for the trans-Atlantic relationship, which would be crucial for him if a no-deal Brexit takes place and trade with America becomes even more important for Britain.

“Both sides say they want to agree a swift and comprehensive free trade agreement after Britain leaves the EU, but political will is likely to determine how quickly that can be done”, James points out.

In the middle of all these complicated moving parts, the Iran issue has come to loom much larger for Britain in recent days.

“Allies are watching closely to see whether the new British leader will move towards the United States and away from the EU over Iran policy”, James argues.

Based on an analysis by William James for Reuters

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