Politics

Patel facing sack over undisclosed talks with Israelis

Priti Patel, UK minister for aid [Peter Nicholls/Reuters]

Britain’s aid minister Priti Patel’s future was in doubt on Wednesday after the Sun newspaper reported she had held two further undisclosed meetings with Israeli politicians.

As Prime Minister Theresa May heads towards 2019's Brexit that will shape Britain’s prosperity for generations, her minority government has stumbled into several controversies that risk shattering her dwindling authority.

Development Secretary Patel apologised to May on Monday for failing to report she had met senior Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a private holiday.

She had failed to follow the usual procedures that have ministers informing Britain’s Foreign Office before conducting official business overseas and said she regretted suggesting Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had been aware of her trip.

On Wednesday, the Sun said Patel had also met Israel’s Foreign Ministry’ Director General Yuval Rotem in New York and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan in London but had not informed May about either meeting despite giving her assurances there had been no other undisclosed talks.

A government source confirmed the meetings took place. The source said that no UK government officials were present for these discussions, and they were set up and reported in a way which did not accord with the usual procedures.

There was no comment from May’s office or Britain’s Department for International Development, and Patel could not be reached for comment. A Downing Street source said May had not yet spoken to Patel.

Besides her government’s sometimes contradictory signals on Brexit, May has faced criticism from opponents for her handling of other issues: from a deadly apartment block fire in June to a sexual harassment scandal in parliament that prompted Michael Fallon, her loyal defence secretary, to resign on Nov 2.

Source: Reuters news agency