International Development Secretary Priti Patel has resigned for breaking the Ministerial Code with secret meetings with Israeli politicians that have emerged this week.
Just 24 hours after the Prime Minister announced that she had accepted Priti Patel’s apology and defended her cabinet colleague, Patel had to cut short an official visit to Uganda to head back to the UK and explain further revelations that emerged last night about more undisclosed meetings with Israeli officials.
Her parliamentary colleagues had accused her of breaking the Ministerial Code when it became clear she had met high ranking Israeli politicians including the Prime Minister without civil servants present while she was meant to be on a family holiday.
Priti Patel finally apologised in her resignation letter and said her actions “fell below the standards of transparency and openness that I have promoted and advocated”.
Theresa May said her decision was “right” as “further details have come to light”.
But – questions still remain about how much Theresa May knew and why they had discussed and agreed that British tax payer funded foreign aid should be diverted to Israeli projects, then kept that hidden to avoid embarrassment with the Foreign Office.
In what could be a fatal blow for the Prime Minister the Jewish Chronicle revealed today that:
Number 10 actually WAS aware of Priti Patel’s latest undisclosed meeting and instructed Priti Patal NOT TO INCLUDE it in a list she was forced to publish of 12 secret meetings with Israeli politicians. This was to avoid embarrassment with the Foreign Office.
The paper also reports that though Priti Patel’s meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister was not authorised in advance, Theresa May’s government “WAS MADE AWARE OF IT WITHIN HOURS.”
What’s more – Theresa May discussed and AGREED with the International Development Secretary’s controversial plan to funnel taxpayer funded UK foreign aid through Israel. – A plan that appears to have emerged over Patel’s undisclosed meetings on ostensibly a family holiday often attended by honorary president of the Conservative Friends for Israel lobbying group Lord Polak.
Priti Patel’s resignation letter:
Theresa May’s lack of authority or ability to discipline her party have been questioned as at the same time the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was let off the hook for another blunder – this time saying that a British mum locked up by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard on a holiday in Iran was teaching journalism – an untrue assertion that had her hauled back into court to face an extra five years in an Iranian jail.
A senior Conservative MP told political correspondent Michael Crick: “Boris is a f****** disgrace and if he had an ounce of integrity – which he doesn’t – he’d have walked immediately.”
Theresa May is also coming under mounting pressure for the lack of resignations and suspensions despite a mounting sex scandal with dozens of her MP’s facing allegations.
Asked if her Development minister had the PM’s full confidence last night, Theresa May had said “I spoke to Priti Patel today. She has explained and clarified the visit to Israel that she made, and I have accepted the apology that she has given for the way she handled that particular visit. And I have spoken to her about the Ministerial Code and about the implications of Ministerial Code.”
Priti Patel was accused today of changing her flight back from Uganda to a later one to avoid scrutiny in Parliament. But earlier while the PM was still defending her minister, former opposite number Kate Osamor the Labour Shadow Secretary of State for International Development told the House of Commons:
“The British public are outraged that the Secretary of State held 12 secret meetings in Israel, including with Prime Minister Netanyahu, without telling either the Foreign Office or the Prime Minister, and was accompanied by a pro-Israeli lobbyist. She then misled the British public with comments on Friday that she finally corrected yesterday. It has now emerged that the Prime Minister met her Israeli counterpart last week without even knowing about the secret meeting in August.
Today we learned that the Secretary of State has applied pressure to her Department to divert humanitarian funding to the Israeli army in the Golan Heights. Will the Minister tell the House exactly what was discussed in those secret meetings, and exactly what pressure the Secretary of State applied on her Department when she returned to the UK?
It is hard to think of a more black and white case of breaking the ministerial code of conduct, but rather than change the Minister, the Prime Minister somehow decided last night that the ministerial code itself needed changing.”
Labour MP Alex Cunningham accused the Prime Minister of being “weak and wobbly” over her latest u-turn.
Amazed the PM waited for disgraced Priti Patel to resign after her secret meetings with Israelis – if she wasn’t so weak and wobbly she’d have sacked her earlier in the week.
— Alex Cunningham MP (@ACunninghamMP) November 8, 2017