ALL eyes are on Boris Johnson right now. But if you’re searching for real signs of his capacity to handle a crisis and what his stint as Prime Minister holds in store, then cast your gaze to the far off Strait of Hormuz.

As it stands, Britain has got itself into a right diplomatic fankle there with Iran. Ever since the Royal Navy was caught unawares when Iranian Revolutionary Guards seized the tanker Stena Impero in retaliation for Britain interdicting an Iranian tanker near Gibraltar, things have gone from bad to worse in this crisis.

Indeed Britain’s lack of judgement and preparation over the whole affair has dealt the new Prime Minister something of a foreign policy nightmare.

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Watching how Johnson handles this crisis and knowing the extent to which his stint as foreign secretary was riddled by reckless speeches and mortifying gaffes, the signs are far from encouraging.

Seen from a UK perspective, the ongoing diplomatic standoff with Iran is a complex one requiring just the kind of deft handling and grasp of detail that Boris Johnson is bereft of.

While most of us accept that Brexit will define Johnson’s term in office, the Iranian affair is by far the most immediate foreign policy issue from which the new PM could come a cropper To begin with, this is not a crisis that should be seen in isolation – far from it. At one and the same time it’s not only seriously testing Britain’s relations with Tehran, but set to do the same with the Trump administration and our European neighbours.

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Just consider Johnson’s conundrum. In the very same week that Britain called on its European allies to help set up a naval coalition to provide security for commercial ships in the Strait of Hormuz, the new Tory PM was again threatening the EU.

As Ian Bond, director of foreign policy at the Centre for European Reform, rightly pointed out: “In any sane world, we wouldn’t be simultaneously threatening a no-deal Brexit while at the same time asking for a European Maritime Force to protect commercial ships in the Gulf.”

But then again UK Government thinking has long since ceased to operate within sane parameters and once more a crisis like that with Iran shows precisely why European co-operation is vital to UK foreign policy. So hell-bent and obsessed have Johnson and his cohorts become with Brexit, that they have become blinkered to wider geopolitics. That shameful two-faced policy towards our European neighbours comes too before pausing to consider what the Iran crisis might mean for Johnson’s hopes of getting on with his US counterpart and our transatlantic “cousins”.

The British proposal, two-faced as it was, is still likely to be construed in Washington as a partial rebuke of the Trump administration. Outgoing foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, after all, was at pains to stress that the European naval coalition would not form part of the US campaign of imposing maximum pressure on Iran.

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Call me cynical but perhaps Jim Townsend, a former senior US Defence Department official, had a point when he quipped the other day that “maybe this was Theresa May’s parting shot as she leaves No 10”.

Certainly, if ever May or Hunt wanted to dish out some payback on Johnson then they could not have picked a better way of doing it.

Washington, it’s certain, will not take too kindly if Johnson chooses to team up with Europe in responding to the tensions in the Strait of Hormuz. Let’s not forget also that the UK still remains aligned with the EU in wanting to save the Iran nuclear deal, much to the chagrin of the hawks in the Trump administration like US National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

A neat resolution with Tehran on either the nuclear deal or the standoff in the Strait of Hormuz would not go down well with these hawks.

In the end it might well boil down to who it is – Europe or Washington – Johnson wants to anger least over Iran. But given Brexit and a PM with all the diplomatic skills of a runaway tank, even that will not prove easy.

JOHNSON is walking a diplomatic tightrope over the Iran crisis and we know from past experience how unsteady in such circumstances he can be on his feet.

In the first instance much will depend on how it goes when Johnson meets Trump. Iran, however, is not a foreign policy issue on which the White House is likely to make concessions easily.

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Whether it be Iran or other pressing foreign policy issues, there is the potential for a relationship between these two leaders that is tantamount to what Michael Hirsh, senior correspondent at Foreign Policy magazine, wryly described this week as a “wrecking ball”.

In other words, the birth of a bizarre backward version of the so-called “special relationship”, one premised on undoing a great deal of what the UK and the US accomplished together after the Second World War.

Four years ago Johnson, the then London mayor, said the then presidential candidate Trump demonstrated “a quite stupefying ignorance that makes him unfit to hold the office of president of the United States”.

Trump does not forget such things, which will make Johnson’s already daunting task of getting off on the right foot with the US president all the more challenging.

But with the likes of warmongers Bolton and Pompeo looking over Trump’s shoulder, it’s steering a course through the thorny issue of Iran that Johnson will have to face as his first big foreign policy crisis since becoming PM.

There will be other issues, too, that Johnson will have to confront in future where doubtless the Americans will want him onside, including the Middle East peace process and climate change.

How much Britain’s new PM will seek to accommodate Trump remains to be seen. But should Johnson abandon long-held UK foreign policy positions then the perception of him being Washington’s yes man will loom large, something the PM will want to avoid given the possibility of an early General Election.

Should the UK Government decide not to go along with the US on foreign policy issues like Iran, then cutting itself adrift from the EU is truly misguided. But then we’ve known that all along.

Right now Boris Johnson is about to find out that steering his way through the Iran crisis to Washington’s satisfaction may prove almost as treacherous as sailing through the Strait of Hormuz under a British flag.