To the BBC host’s accusation that Tory members could consider Boris Johnson to have failed in his latest Cabinet post, Jacob Rees-Mogg responded that the issue with the imprisonment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Iran was the “criminal regime” imposed by the Iranian Government and not the actions of the former Foreign Secretary. He said: “Well, first of all in a leadership campaign criticise their opponents and that’s fair enough. But the issue that you mention is that Iran is a criminal regime that locks up people who are innocent.
“This is not Boris Johnson’s fault, this is a failure of the Iranian Government.
“And I’m afraid the Iranian Government has a lot of apologists.”
When Mr Brown insisted in his claim Boris Johnson had been either inappropriately briefed or had “misspoken” about Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe “simply teaching people journalism” in Iran in an attempt to help her case against a five-year prison sentence, Mr Rees-Mogg hit back again.
The Tory MP said: “She’s already in prison at this stage, illegally, for not committing any crime because of a terrible regime.
“It’s the terrible regime we should be criticising. We shouldn’t be apologists for Iranian mismanagement and misgovernment.”
Failing to drop his argument, the BBC host tried once again to make his case Boris Johnson could not be trusted as Prime Minister.
He said: “But surely as a Cabinet minister, as a Foreign Secretary, you should be properly briefed.
“That’s the worry, that he doesn’t have great attention to detail.”
At this point, Mr Rees-Mogg accused the BBC host of unfairly criticising the Tory leadership candidate and frontrunner.
He responded: “I think it’s entirely missing the point.
“And actually, as Foreign Secretary, he achieved the great success after the poisoning in Sailsbury of the biggest hit to Russian spying that there’s been in decades since Alec Douglas-Home was Prime Minister.
“And that was a global cooperation. He had a number of triumphs as Foreign Secretary which in relation to knowing the details I don’t think your criticism is fair.
“And I really don’t think it’s right to be an apologist for the Iranian Government.”
British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is serving a five-year prison sentence in Iran on charges related to national security.
But Mrs Ratcliffe claims to have been in Iran to visit his parents and show her daughter Gabriella.