Was the ‘Secret Meetings’ sole reason for resignation?
British Minister Priti Patel was forced to leave the office over undisclosed meetings with Israeli officials after Prime Minister Theresa May sought to reassert her diminished authority as she negotiates Brexit. Her secret meetings in Israel were sole reason why she was asked to resign.
Patel, a Brexit campaigner who is popular in the ruling Conservative Party, had to abandon a trip to Africa earlier after being summoned by May to answer questions on more unsanctioned meetings that breached diplomatic protocol. After a hastily arranged meeting not long after Patel landed in London, May’s office released her minister’s letter of resignation, in which Patel said her conduct in Israel had fallen “below the high standards” required of her post.
Patel wrote a letter which was quoted “While my actions were meant with the best of intentions, my actions also fell below the standards of transparency and openness that I have promoted and advocated,”
“I offer a fulsome apology to you and to the government for what has happened and offer my resignation.”
May respond in a letter, saying, “Now that further details have come to light, it is right that you have decided to resign and adhere to the high standards of transparency and openness that you have advocated.”
It was not clear who would replace Patel, who held the meetings during a holiday in Israel earlier this year. In British protocol, a cabinet minister would normally organise meetings through the foreign office and be accompanied by officials, and visits with Israelis would typically be balanced with meetings with Palestinians.
Patel’s meetings with Israeli officials, which May’s office said they were not aware of, and a reported visit to an Israeli army field hospital in the Golan Heights, have increased the pressure on the prime minister, who depends on a Northern Irish party in parliament to pass legislation.
Friend or Foe?
But while acting quickly to force Patel to resign, the loss of an enthusiastic Brexit campaigner from her cabinet team of top ministers could mean that May faces greater pressure from lawmakers to pursue a clean break from the EU. A source added, “Priti is more popular than Theresa, and has more contacts and influence overseas. If I was May, I wouldn’t want Priti unleashed on the back benches.”
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