John Bolton arrives in London to shape UK policy on Iran
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John Bolton arrives in London to shape UK policy on Iran

Bolton is expected to meet senior officials in the new Tory government in the next two days. On Monday 12 August, Bolton is expected to first meet cabinet secretary, Mark Sedwill, before travelling to No. 10 Downing Street where he is scheduled to meet Boris Johnson’s chief strategic advisor, Edward Lister. Bolton will finish his working day on Monday by meeting former Home Secretary and the new Chancellor, Sajid Javid. On Tuesday 13 August, Bolton is scheduled to meet Liz Truss (international trade secretary), Ben Wallace (defence secretary) and finally Brexit secretary, Stephen Barclay. Whilst the international media has mostly focused on the big picture, namely Bolton’s mission to align the UK with the US’s so-called “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, little attention has been paid to the minutiae of Bolton’s visit. One key question is which leaders in Britain’s foreign policy and national security establishment are Bolton’s natural allies. A notorious Iran hawk, Bolton has apparently made it his life mission to engineer a military conflict between Iran and the US. To that end, he is unlikely to find a loyal accomplice in Britain’s new foreign secretary, Dominic Raab. Whilst Raab is not exactly a foreign policy dove, nonetheless he is reluctant to fully abandon Britain’s traditional positions in the Middle East. The same can be said of the new defence secretary, Ben Wallace, who appears to be fully cognizant of the UK’s military weakness, and hence will be reluctant to entangle the UK in future military adventures. Bolton is likely to a get more sympathetic hearing from the Chancellor Sajid Javid, who is one of the leading Zionists in Johnson’s cabinet. In his previous role as Home Secretary, Javid implemented a number of anti-Iran measures, including proscribing the Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah, in February. Bolton will likely secure greater lobbying success outside the formal cabinet. His meeting with Johnson’s chief strategic advisor, and effective chief of staff, Edward Lister, is significant. Whilst Lister has not demonstrated particularly hawkish or radical positions, it is his access to the more informal policy and advisory roles that is significant. Lister will almost certainly report back to Dominic Cummings, who is a special advisor to the government and is widely perceived as the greatest ideological influence on Johnson. The Guardian even describes Cummings as Johnson’s “enforcer”. Thus Bolton will be trying to shape UK policy by appealing first and foremost to the informal layers of power surrounding the new hard right Tory government.

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