British aid minister Priti Patel was forced from office on Wednesday over undisclosed meetings with Israeli officials after Prime Minister Theresa May sought to reassert her diminished authority as she negotiates Brexit.
Patel, a Brexit campaigner who is popular in the ruling Conservative Party, had to abandon a trip to Africa earlier on Wednesday 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.
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“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,” Patel wrote in the letter to May.
I offer a fulsome apology to you and to the government for what has happened and offer my resignation.
May responded 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.”
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Under British protocol, a cabinet minister would normally organize 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.
“There are times when a government has the stench of death about it,” Pat McFadden, a lawmaker from the main opposition Labor Party, told parliament on Tuesday.
(MEMO, PC, Social Media)