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Priti Patel resigns amid scandal over meetings with Israeli officials

The former International Development Secretary was ordered to return to the UK today for an emergency Downing Street meeting

    Priti Patel has resigned at International Development Secretary (GETTY)
    Priti Patel has resigned at International Development Secretary (GETTY)

    Priti Patel has resigned following the furore over her failure to disclose meetings with Israeli ministers.

    The former International Development Secretary had been expected to be dismissed by Prime Minister Theresa May this evening but resigned, after being ordered to cut short a diplomatic trip to Africa.

    In a letter accepting Ms Patel’s resignation, the Prime Minister wrote: “As you know, the UK and Israel are close allies, and it is right that we should work closely together.

    “But that must be done formally, and through official channels. That is why, when we met on Monday, I was glad to accept your apology and welcomed your clarification about your trip to Israel over the summer.

    “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.”

    In her letter to Mrs May, Ms Patel wrote: “In recent days there have been a number of reports about my actions and I am sorry that these have served as a distraction from the work of the Department for International Development and of the Government as a whole.

    “As you know from our discussions I accept that in meeting with organisations and politicians during a private holiday in Israel my actions fell below the high standards that are expected of a Secretary of State.

    “I offer a fulsome apology to you and to the Government for what has happened and offer my resignation.”

    Ms Patel was reprimanded in Downing Street on Monday, and was asked to disclose the details of her meetings with Israeli officials while on holiday.

    It was later revealed that the Conservative cabinet member had two more meetings which were not disclosed.

    Questions were asked of the Prime Minister today after the JC exclusively revealed that Number 10 instructed Ms Patel not to include her meeting with the Israel Foreign Ministry official Yuval Rotem because it would embarrass the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

    This was denied by Number 10.

    This newspaper also revealed that although Ms Patel’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not authorised in advance, the British government was made aware of it within hours.

    Kate Osamor, Labour’s Shadow International Development Secretary said: "Priti Patel appears to have breached the ministerial code, gone behind the Government's back, and misled the British public.

    "After initially denying the allegations, then repeatedly changing her story and failing to disclose all of her meetings, it is right that she has now resigned.

    "But we still need to know what was discussed in these meetings and what Number 10 and the Foreign Office knew and when."

    Ms Patel’s flight from Nairobi, Kenya, landed at Heathrow Airport shortly after 3pm today, and she left a meeting at Number 10 this evening.

    She was appointed International Development Secretary in July 2016 after playing a leading role in the Vote Leave campaign earlier that year.

    Ms Patel, 45, was first elected as member of Parliament for Witham, in Essex, in 2010.

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