NRI

More Woes for Theresa May Govt: Priti Patel Resigns Over Israel Meetings

"My actions fell below the standard of transparency and openness I had promoted and advocated," MP Priti Patel said while resigning.
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The Conservative Party in the United Kingdom has given Prime Minister Theresa May a deadline until Christmas to turn around her administration after two recent high-profile exits. After Defence Secretary Michael Fallon’s resignation due to a sexual harassment scandal, International Development Secretary Priti Patel bit the dust on Nov. 8 for holding unauthorized meetings in Israel during a personal holiday in August this year.

“My actions fell below the standard of transparency and openness I had promoted and advocated,” Patel said while resigning.

Patel was a Brexit campaigner but was forced out when it was revealed that she had withheld details of her meetings with Israeli officials. She apologized earlier this week for the conduct. Apart from meeting some organizations, she met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well, without the knowledge of the Foreign Office. She also visited the disputed Golan Heights area and asked her department if aid could be sent to Israeli troops in the territory. The United Kingdom generally balances meetings with officials in Israel with those with Palestinian officials since it recognizes a two-state policy.

“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,” May’s letter said.

The May-led government faces more criticism after Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told a Parliamentary Committee that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian woman jailed in Iran for five years for espionage, was teaching journalists there. Her family said she was there on a holiday and there are fears that Johnson’s statement would increase her jail term.

Also in hot water is May’s deputy Damian Green, who has been accused of inappropriate behavior and was recently questioned about pornographic material being found on his computer.

The recent events have cast a negative view on the government and there seems to be a trust deficit from the general public even as the tough Brexit talks continue.

“There is cumulative effect and there is a danger for the Prime Minister that she could be perceived as having lost control of events,” an unnamed minister told the Independent. “That is a very difficult thing to regain once that perception is created. This next month to six weeks is make-or-break time. Not just domestically, not just with the EU withdrawal Bill and the Budget, but with the European Council in December and whether we get ‘sufficient progress’ in Brexit talks.”

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