The immediate issue is protecting vessels; the most important issue is where the post-Brexit UK positions itself
The British-flagged Stena Impero tanker, seized last Friday in the strait of Hormuz, was at last notice held in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. But the ship of state known as HMS Britain is heading into uncharted waters, in the hands of an unreliable captain.
The new prime minister, who will walk into Downing Street on Wednesday, is almost certain to be the man who is regarded by many as the worst foreign secretary of recent times, and who has already demonstrated his keenness to keep the Trump administration happy. Probably the worst of the mistakes engendered by Boris Johnson’s sheer carelessness involved Iran: his claim that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been training journalists when detained there – not, as her family have always said, on holiday – was seized upon by the regime. She is still in jail. He is hardly known for learning from such lessons; short-term reassurance may come from the fact that unless a solution is found very rapidly indeed, this crisis will make it harder to replace Jeremy Hunt as foreign secretary, likely ensuring at least consistency.