'Until last weekend it seemed obvious that the most important challenge facing Britain’s new prime minister, after he is announced tomorrow, would be how on earth to deliver Brexit and take Britain out of the EU.
But that was then. It now seems certain that when Mr Johnson or Mr Hunt enters Downing Street on Wednesday, his first action as Prime Minister will have to be calling a meeting of the Government’s emergency Cobra committee to discuss the precarious diplomatic situation with Iran.
Until this seething geopolitical crisis is dealt with, Brexit will have to wait.
And our new Prime Minister, whoever he is, will immediately find himself caught between the machinations of Iran’s ruthless Republican Guard and the rather heavy-handed diplomatic abilities of Donald Trump.
On Friday the Iranians seized the British-flagged tanker, Stena Impero, deepening our involvement in an already dicey situation.
It is one that I fear could, without swift and decisive action, escalate into a shooting war.
With so many great powers involved – Russia and China have a keen interest in the region as well as the United States – any conflict could develop into a version of World War III.
Even if such a catastrophe is averted, it is worth pointing out that if the Strait of Hormuz were to close to international shipping in the event of any military conflict, the consequences for the global economy would be horrific.
Almost a fifth of the world’s oil passes through this strait between Iran and Oman, which is 21 miles wide at its narrowest point.
If the supply ceased due to the strait being blocked, the oil price would rocket, risking global recession, with the prospect of tremendous economic uncertainty and civil unrest. The stakes could scarcely be higher.
Much of what happens next will depend on the American president himself. Compared to some of his recent predecessors, Mr Trump has shown no great appetite for war.
Whatever his other faults, he has instinctively held back from military confrontation with North Korea, Syria and Russia.
But Iran looks different. Trump appears to have been agitating for conflict with the Islamic Republic for more than a year.'
Read more: Why I blame the 'warmonger' whispering in Donald Trump's ear
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