Tory admits she didn’t tell Foreign Office about ‘family holiday’ plans
LABOUR called on International Development Secretary Priti Patel to resign yesterday following her apology for misleading Parliament over meetings with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
The party’s shadow international development secretary Kate Osamor labelled Ms Patel’s apology a “desperate last-ditch attempt” to save her job after it was revealed she had used a family summer holiday to meet Mr Netanyahu without telling the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in advance.
A government statement said Ms Patel “regrets the lack of precision in the wording she used” last week when only two meetings — with Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid and a disability charity — were disclosed.
But a full list shows she attended 12 separate events, including a meeting with Mr Netanyahu in which “prospects for closer collaboration” were discussed.
All the meetings were arranged by Lord Polak, honorary president of the Conservative Friends of Israel lobbying group, and he attended them all bar one.
She apologised for setting up and reporting the meetings “in a way which did not accord with the usual procedures” and said that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson “knew about the visit” at the time it was happening but admitted he did not know about it beforehand.
Ms Patel said: “This summer I travelled to Israel, on a family holiday I paid for myself.
“While away, I had the opportunity to meet a number of people and organisations. I am publishing a list of who I met. The FCO was aware of my visit while it was under way.”
She said her “enthusiasm” had been misread and apologised for not following procedures.
A Number 10 spokesman said that PM Theresa May has accepted Ms Patel’s apology and that she met her yesterday morning to remind her of her obligations under the Ministerial Code.
However Ms Osamor called for Ms Patel to resign, saying that contrary to her statement on Friday, “the Foreign Secretary was never told in advance about her meetings in Israel, which we have only now discovered included meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu and with the Foreign Ministry.
“Not only does it look like she might have breached the Ministerial Code, she has now been caught misleading the British public. If she doesn’t now resign, then Theresa May must immediately refer the issue to the Cabinet Office for a full investigation.”