Patel faces calls to quit after meeting Israel PM on 'holiday'

08 November, 2017, 09:37 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
  • Priti Patel under question over Israel trip

During a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, she discussed her family background that included her parents fleeing Uganda in the 1970s and settling in Britain.

She falsely suggested that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had authorised her meetings.

The meetings were a potential breach of ministerial protocol.

British secretary of state for worldwide development Priti Patel has apologised for holding several secret meetings with Israeli officials during a family holiday in August, in which she discussed a number of issues, including India.

Kate Osamor, the shadow worldwide development secretary, said: "Not only does it look like she might have breached the ministerial code, she has now been caught misleading the British public".

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She said they had also been attended by Stuart Polak, the honorary president of the Conservative Friends of Israel and an influential pro-Israel lobbyist.

Ms Patel apologised for arranging and reporting the meetings "in a way which did not accord with the usual procedures".

Priti Patel met with Netanyahu, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and other officials while on a family vacation in Israel in August. Patel contradicted her previous remarks about informing the Foreign Office.

In her clarification, Patel was forced to admit that she did not just meet with "people and organisations". I am sorry for this and I apologise for it.

She also held several meetings with representatives of charities and NGOs involved in aid and humanitarian work.

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However MPs were told Patel was already in the air flying to Africa for a ministerial visit.

Andy Slaughter, a member of parliament for the main opposition Labour Party and a vice-chair of the Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East, told Middle East Eye on Friday that Patel's actions had been "outrageous" and compromised Britain's standing as an "honest broker" in distributing aid around the world.

She was also reprimanded by Downing Street for suggesting the Foreign Office was aware of the meetings before they took place even though it was not. The Telegraph also reported that Patel had suggested to Netanyahu that the United Kingdom should give aid to the Israeli army. "It is hard to escape the conclusion that had she been a more expendable minister - Mark Garnier, for instance - or if the prime minister was in a position of strength, Patel would have faced a Cabinet Office inquiry at best, and her P45 at worst".

Downing Street confirmed that detail was not discussed when Theresa May held talks with her Cabinet colleague yesterday, and that the Prime Minister only learned when the BBC revealed it this morning.

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