It’s fitting that Boris Johnson chose Valentine’s Day to set out his dream of Brexit.
His record of lies and unwilling apologies aside, there could be no better time for him to demonstrate just how much the blond bombshell loves himself.
This is a man not only seeking to seduce an entire country, but who believes that it’s genuinely possible – that by telling you to dump the EU and with a vow he’ll stick by your democracy forever, you will all be persuaded to let him screw you.
He won’t want you to notice he has promised you the painfully impossible, because if you Leave you’ll need to amputate Northern Ireland first and there isn’t enough anaesthetic in the world.
He won’t tell you the EU is too big to ignore, that the alimony makes Leaving uneconomic and he’s always been quite happy to ignore democracy when it suits.
And he’s especially not going to tell you during this dimly-lit seduction there’s another woman. One whose hair is falling out, one separated from her child, one enduring torture as he treats you to a wink with a rose between his teeth.
The photographs of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe before she was sentenced to 5 years in a Iranian jail for false allegations of trying to to topple the regime show a delighted, healthy, new mum. A photograph of her now would show something different.
She’s since spent 22 months living in utter terror, arraigned for crimes she did not commit, denied a proper trial, and denied her basic human rights.
According to lawyers for the charity Redress she spent 8 and a half months in solitary confinement in cells as small as 1.5m x 2m square. She was blindfolded, ordered to wash in stinking sinks, and denied light and fresh air. She was taken out of the cell only for interrogations and at one, where she was allowed 30 minutes of walking a day, she had to do it blindfold.
Her family didn’t know where she was for 2 days, were told she’d be released a week later, and didn’t get to see her for 40 days. At that meeting she was too weak even to pick her daughter up.
That was in June 2016. Just one month later, Boris was made Foreign Secretary.
Nazanin suffers claustrophobia. She’s had panic attacks, palpitations, teeth problems, chronic back pain, arthritis in her neck worsened by sleeping on the concrete cell floor and a breast cancer scare. She went on hunger strike early in her incarceration, and when her mother visited with Gabriella to beg her to eat she collapsed.
She can’t sleep without sleeping pills. She says she feels lost in an "ocean of mistrust". She’s been diagnosed with "advanced depression".
She is not James Bond. She’s not trained to withstand hard interrogation. She’s a junior charity administrator who once worked for a trust providing journalist training, and she never worked on any projects it ran for Iranians.
She has not been allowed a single visit from the British consul in Tehran. She’s been in jail for 682 days, 581 of them with Boris at the Foreign Office, and he hasn’t even managed to persuade the Iranians to let an official see her.
At the end of last year this man, whose job includes helping British nationals in trouble in foreign countries, did the opposite by publicly stating Nazanin HAD been training journalists.
And that’s despite the fact that, not being a journalist herself, she wouldn’t have had much to say about how to be one.
Nazanin was immediately threatened with another 5 years’ jail and broke down in her cell. Boris was forced into one of his rare, blood-from-a-stone apologies, and finally agreed to meet her husband to discuss the campaign to release her.
It was followed by a trip to Iran where Boris claimed he’d held "frank" and "forthright" talks with the regime. Ayatollah Alamolhoda responded by calling him "a clown" and "a womaniser" so presumably it didn’t go well. Nazanin’s file was labelled for early release, but it never came.
Her husband has resumed the campaign, saying she’s being used as a political pawn and he can wait no longer for governments to extract digit from backside.
In the time that Nazanin has languished in a series of unsanitary cells smaller than the average British bathroom, Boris has written thousands of words about Brexit, been involved in untold Tory leadership plots centred on Brexit, castigated his fellow MPs for Whats Apping their unhappiness abotu Brexit, got the Yemen and the Lebanon mixed up, passed comment on the mummified corpse of an aged female relative and suggested building a Brexit bridge across the Channel that would close in every light breeze.
In the 22 months she has been jailed there have been 5 full Parliamentary debates on Nazanin’s case. But according to Hansard, Boris has spoken about her just twice – both in November last year, when he was forced to apologise, and then apologise more sincerely, for worsening her situation.
There is no reason the MP for Uxbridge, the Foreign Secretary and the leader of the Brexit campaign can’t do all those jobs with the same commitment. But Boris is fully committed to the aggrandisement of Boris. There’s no gain for him in Nazanin’s case, so he’ll keep it at arm’s length until he can find a way to take credit, just as he did with Crossrail and the London Olympics.
Instead he concentrates on selling you a dream of Brexit, ignoring all the facts and realities of the thing and likewise not mentioning that Brexit is denying Nazanin the best chance she has of freedom.
The EU-US Iranian nuclear deal, aimed at giving the regime trade in return for an end to their weapons programme, was abandoned by Donald Trump after he took office. The EU’s might is now the only force in the world capable of bringing the regime to heel, and were it willing to go in to bat for Nazanin it could be almost guaranteed she’d be released.
But there is no point in fighting for the citizen of a country that has voted to Leave; still less for a nation whose foreign relations have boiled down to Boris saying "go whistle".
I’m not arguing to overturn Brexit for one woman. But Nazanin is just one of hundreds of Britons jailed around the world who need the support of the EU and won’t get it, and there’ll be thousands more in the years to come. Then there’s people with international marriages and child custody disputes, business wrangles, job searches. Can you really be sure one of them won’t be you?
The truth is that foreign relations and Brexit are incompatible, in the same way as the Irish border and customs checks. Nothing this man is selling you can be delivered, and the steaming hot lunch he finally serves up is going to cost more than you realised.
There is no way this charmer will pay the bill or still be there in the morning. There’ll just be another mug, another desperately suffering victim, another example of how one man’s ego can break a woman’s heart.