Morning,

Around noon today Boris Johnson faces what it is probably his most difficult engagement of the week.

The Prime Minister is due to meet Richard Ratcliffe, husband of jailed British-Iranian dual national, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

She, you will remember, is the charity worker who was locked up in Tehran in 2016 on charges of spying, which she vehemently denies.

The agony she is going through – separated from her husband and little daughter Gabriella – has been well documented.

Her husband Richard is battling to release her

The PM stands accused of increasing her misery with loose language in front of a Commons select committee when he was Foreign Secretary.

Quite literally, she faces being locked up for even longer because of his characteristically sloppy answer to MPs.

The dignity with which Richard has fought for his wife’s freedom is extraordinary – as is his restraint in not lashing out at Johnson for that pathetic parliamentary performance.

Today, he has the chance to press the PM over Nazanin’s incarceration.

Nazanin with her husband

As well as the public bluster and bravado we witness from our premier, he is capable of private empathy and understanding – virtues which will be sorely needed when he hosts Richard in No10.

In practical terms, the West’s stand off with Iran has deepened so much since Nazanin’s arrest four years ago, it is difficult to see what influence Johnson can exert.

Nazanin – and by extension her family – are mere pawns in the much wider dispute over Iran which, in the past six months, has seen Iran and the UK trade tit-for-tat tanker seizures, an Iranian general assassinated, retaliatory rocket strikes on coalition bases in Iraq, 176 people killed when an airliner was accidentally shot down and the nuclear deal all but collapse.

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In the middle of this is a British mum, separated from her child and husband in a desperate game of diplomatic chess.

The PM will come under pressure to do more to press Tehran to release her

Labour’s leadership race looks like being a three-way fight, with Lisa Nandy and Keir Starmer confirmed on the final ballot and Rebecca Long-Bailey expected to join them.

Emily Thornberry is struggling to make the final cut.

You have the chance to grill the candidates at the Mirror hustings in Dudley on February 9 .

On today:

9.30am – International Trade Questions in the Commons

Noon – Boris Johnson meets Richard Ratcliffe in Downing Street

Lunchtime – Chancellor Sajid Javid speech at a CBI event at the World Economic Forum in Davos

What I am reading:

Kate Proctor in the The Guardian on whether Momentum can survive without Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader

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