Patel’s resignation causes crisis

Patel’s resignation causes crisis
Priti Patel who is UK's Secretary of State for International Development has resigned from the position after details emerged of her having held secret meetings with Israeli..

Priti Patel who is UK's Secretary of State for International Development has resigned from the position after details emerged of her having held secret meetings with Israeli officials during a holiday visit to the region in August 2017.

Background

Priti Patel is a British politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Witham constituency in Essex since 2010. She is a member of the Conservative Party and ideologically she is considered a right-wing politician. Hailing from a Ugandan Indian migrant family, Patel was born and brought up in London. She became a member of the Conservative Party in the early years. Initially she worked for the public relations consultancy firm called Weber Shandwick. Here she lobbied for tobacco and alcohol industries. In 2005, she was unsuccessful in contesting Nottingham North at the general election.

After David Cameron became Conservative leader, he recommended Patel for the party's "A-List" of prospective candidates. She was first elected MP for Witham, a Conservative safe seat, at the 2010 general election, and was re-elected in 2015 and 2017. She served as Secretary of State for International Development from July 2016 to November 2017. She has long been seen as a rising star in the Conservative Party.

Analysis

The scandal around Patel’s visit to Israel erupted in the recent days. BBC revealed that while she had billed it as a private holiday with her family, she had also held a number of meetings with business and political figures in August. These meetings were later not disclosed.

Patel admitted that after the 13-day visit, she had wanted to give British aid money to the Israeli army in the Golan Heights. It also emerged that Patel met Israeli public security minister Gilad Erdan in the British Parliament on September 7, and foreign ministry official Yuval Rotem in New York on September 18.

As the details about her undisclosed meetings with Israeli players began to emerge, Patel resigned from her position in November 2017. In her resignation letter she wrote, “As you know from our discussions I accept that in meeting with organizations and politicians during a private holiday in Israel my actions fell well below the standards expected of a Secretary of State. While my actions were meant with the best of intentions, my actions also fell well below the standards of transparency and openness I had promoted and advocated.”

Patel offered her apology to the British Prime Minister Theresa May and added, “I offer a fulsome apology to you and the government for what has happened and offer my resignation. From the backbenches, I will take an active role representing and speaking up for the good people of the Witham constituency.”

Commenting after the firing, Liberal Democrat deputy leader Jo Swinson said in a statement, “This was an appalling error of judgement and is nothing short of a major failure by the British government. 

Number 10 must answer questions about their complicity in this scandal. Someone has been deceived, either the British people or the Prime Minister’s office. Whichever it is someone must be held to account.”

Patel’s resignation has resulted in the second cabinet re-shuffle that Theresa May has had to orchestrate in the span of one week. Earlier, Sir Michael Fallon, UK’s Defence Secretary had resigned over allegations of sexual impropriety. There are possibly more scandals that might erupt in the coming days. A popular blog called Guido Fawkes blog has published a spreadsheet that detailed alleged various sexual improprieties conducted by Conservative MPs. The list had reportedly been originally compiled by aides working for the parliamentarians. A total of 36 MPs from the Conservative Party have been implicated.

Assessment

Our assessment is that in the wake of multiple resignations and cabinet re-shuffles, Theresa May’s government is in deep crisis. Unless May is able to restore a sense of calm after a chaotic week, she will not be able to earn her authority back. 

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