UK Minister Priti Patel resigns after secret meetings with Israelis

Priti Patel has given her resignation after being summoned back to the UK urgently, following reports of her undisclosed meetings with Israeli officials.

Priti Patel
Priti Patel Reuters

The UK Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel has been sacked after PM Theresa May instructed her to cancel her Africa trip and return to the UK. Patel and May had a short meeting of six minutes, after which the former submitted her resignation letter. May now faces the risk of a rise in the existing instability across Whitehall and Westminster, making it more difficult for her government to keep up their political agenda.

Patel was facing a high probability of being sacked after information of two more secret meetings of her with Israeli officials came to the forefront. These two join the list of 12 previous meetings with Israel that Patel has already admitted to attending them. After the revelation, UK Prime Minister Theresa May ordered Patel to cancel her trip to Africa and return to her country immediately.

The latest revelation has put Patel in a tricky position and aroused suspicion and anger in Downing Street. Her plans of visiting Uganda with Trade Secretary Liam Fox have been scrapped due to the row over this breach of government protocol.

The Secretary of State's undisclosed meetings came to light last week, after which UK PM May took action by reprimanding her and demanding an apology. However, new information has revealed that Patel held two more such meetings, including one with Israel's PM Benjamin Netanyahu. The meetings were unauthorised by the government and unattended by any other UK official. The protocol breach reportedly took place while Patel was on a 'family holiday' to Israel in August.

Patel had narrowly escaped being fired after her deed was revealed as May did not want to further destabilise the government after Michael Fallon's resignation over sexual harassment accusations. However, the scenario might change now, after more of Patel's secret meetings came to light.

In the meetings, Patel had tried to send some of Britain's aid fund to Golan Heights, where the Israeli army is doing humanitarian work, reports Daily Mail. However, she had not informed anything regarding this to PM May, who heard about it in a BBC report. It should be noted that Britain is in conflict with Israel about occupying Golan Heights illegally.

Patel is also guilty of providing a vague and misleading account of her visits when she was asked for details on Friday. The Foreign Office was not aware of her meetings, of which no minutes were recorded, until August 24.

It is still not clear whether Patel broke the ministerial code, but Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood has been instructed to revise it to prevent further such incidences.

Patel has since apologised for engaging in the unauthorised meetings and admitted to being a part of all of them. In her resignation letter, she admitted that her actions "fell below the high standards that are expected of a secretary of state."