Priti Patel; where did it all go wrong?

By Managing Director Matt Gillow

Tonight, Priti Patel, formerly Secretary of State for International Development, has resigned following controversies over unofficial meetings with senior Israeli politicians.

While the story broke only recently, the details are clear. Patel attended meetings with key Israeli officials, notably Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and proposed British policy including ideas that the UK should fund the Israeli army’s humanitarian programme—without having her ideas signed off, let alone the meetings, by the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

Patel was today ordered to fly home from Uganda on a State Department mission, and 22,000 people were reported to be tracking her flight – which touched down only hours before she resigned – purportedly ‘jumping before she was pushed.’

Patel argues that the meetings were as part of a family holiday she was on in Israel – and suggests that Downing Street did know about the meetings, a suggestion Number 10 flat-out denied.

Patel’s moves are so controversial because they entirely break the ministerial code and undermine the Prime Minister’s authority, and that of the Cabinet and Foreign Secretary, from whom her Department takes the lead. Furthermore, comments previously made by Patel on the allocation of aid money in the Palestinian territories have led many to worry these unsanctioned sit-downs with Israeli officials could hinder or disrupt Israeli-Palestinian relations and damage Government’s reputation at home and abroad.

The political sphere waits to see who will take over the role – names such as Penny Mordaunt, Charlie Ellwood, and Tom Tugendhat have been floated – and some have even suggested that Patel’s slip-ups could mean Nicky Morgan finds her way back into Cabinet.

Further Reading                                                          

Henry Mance, How the scandal of Priti Patel’s undisclosed meetings in Israel unfolded, The Financial Times (08 November 2017)

Image rights: Russell Watkins/Department for International Development – Flickr

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