Patel began her parliamentary career in 2010, climbing the ladder and stepping into shoes emptied by the fallout from the expenses scandal. MP for Whitham, she made an impression with her charismatic persona in a few television appearances and was tipped as a rising star within Conservative party benches.
Ideologically positioned on the right of her party line, the Brexiteer has caused quite the storm of controversy in Westminster and across the British media today.
Secretary of State for International Development, Patel should be keeping Britain’s interests close to her chest. However, it came to light earlier this week that Ms Patel had involved herself in meetings with Israeli government officials without consent from the Prime Minister during unauthorised trips to the Golan Heights, essentially abusing her position and working on her own terms.
Great to meet with Priti Patel, UK Secretary of State for International Development, today. A true friend of Israel. pic.twitter.com/8q9qSeX7YZ
— יאיר לפיד Yair Lapid (@yairlapid) August 24, 2017
“May Still has confidence in the minister”
You cant deny that Patel seems like a formidable character to have in the cabinet, but the public are so concerned with her whereabouts that over 22’000 people tracked her flight back to the UK.
More than 22,000 users are currently tracking flight #KQ100 en route to London.
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) November 8, 2017
For any government official to do this is a very serious and sackable action. Patel could have jeopardised the UK’s relationship with a nation, in one of the most volatile regions in the world.
On November 6th the BBC reported that Patel had apologised for the 12 undisclosed meetings, some of which were directly with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
At the time, they also reported that all though her boss, Theresa May, did not know of the meetings, “Downing Street welcomed the clarifications” and that May still had confidence in the minister.
However, Patel’s misconduct comes at a time when the Prime Minister is in a precariously fragile and uncomfortable situation both on the world stage and within the party.
So, could Patel lose her job?
It could go either way for the minister. Following the recent sexual harassment claims and resignation of Sir Michael Fallon as Secretary of State for Defence, and then the appointment of the vastly unpopular ‘Spider man’ Gavin Williamson to replace him, the tumultuous state of her cabinet is unpredictable.
It’s worth noting, that regardless of what Theresa May actually thinks of Priti Patel’s actions, politics is a game of illusions and she will have considered on the eight hour Kenya Airways flight back to London whether Patel is more hassle than she’s worth.
UPDATE 8PM 8/11/17
After meeting with the Prime Minister Patel has handed in her resignation letter.
Priti Patel’s resignation letter. pic.twitter.com/iUBJtQKxk8
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) November 8, 2017
UPDATE 8:30PM 8/11/17
Deputy leader of the Labour Party, Tom Watson implies the Government did know about the meetings.
Letter from Watson here pic.twitter.com/DEEPkinbDJ
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) November 8, 2017
UPDATE 14.45 9/11/17
The outcome of Priti Patel’s resignation is a decision which has left some feeling more secure in the PM’s leadership, and others questioning whether it was right for our government and the conservative party.
Patel gracefully bowed out of her ministerial role with this statement on Twitter following the news of her resignation.
An enormous thank you to friends, colleagues, constituents & the public for the support & kindness you have shown me over the last few days
— Priti Patel MP (@patel4witham) November 9, 2017
Twitter users were conflicted on whether or not this was the right call .Others viewed the timing of her misconduct as unfortunate, resulting in her being used as a scapegoat – The straw that broke the camels back in a number of successive negative weeks of PR for the Prime Minster and her administration.
So is this right, May wanted to make deals with Israel without involving BoJo so sends Priti, it's gets publicised and Boris says he didn't know about it, May throws Priti under the bus, Priti grabs on and drags May with her? So May lied to the press, BoJo, and FCO?
— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) November 8, 2017
While others thought she should be held accountable for her own actions.
Patel doesn’t declare meetings and tells half truths to the PM on Monday and it’s somehow somebody else’s fault? 🤷🏻♂️
— Sam Wise 🏳️🌈🇪🇺 (@SamWiseSW) November 9, 2017
British politics, more than ever remains in a precarious state of uncertainty, opacity and confusion. Priti Patel’s actions have undoubtedly added to that sentiment, but Theresa May now needs to end this “shambolic period” and regain order over the houses of commons; whether that means whipping her cabinet into shape and restoring political homogeneity, or perhaps, to sign her own letter of resignation.
Written Michael Ward | Subbed Leanne Hall