It is no exaggeration to say that the seven days since Donald Trump ordered the assassination of general Qassem Soleimani have shaken the world. Now that the aftershocks seem to have subsided, this past week has also revealed much about the state of the UK’s “special relationship” with the United States. It confirmed that it is, in fact, as asymmetrical as ever. When Americans speak of any special relationship, they are as likely to mean Israel, especially under the present administration. 

The “special relationship” always has been something of a British conceit – and whatever influence past prime ministers may have enjoyed in Washington DC, Boris Johnson is plainly something of an afterthought. Britain was not consulted before the operation was launched, despite having vital interests in the region, and, of course, supposedly enjoying that “special” status.

The prime minister made sure that he said as little as possible about the operation until he had to turn up to prime minister’s questions (PMQs). The first British response – from Dominic Raab last Sunday and in a No 10 statement later – was measured, and stressed above all the need for “de-escalation”.

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