Priti Patel discussed giving United Kingdom aid to Israel, Downing Street admits
- Author: Theresa Obrien Nov 08, 2017,
Nov 08, 2017, 0:41
The minister, who has been under fire for not disclosing the trip earlier this summer, said the visit was a "family holiday, paid for myself" and the meetings - with a range of politicians, businesses, tech startups and NGOs - were arranged while away.
The worldwide development secretary, Priti Patel, held undisclosed meetings in Israel without telling the Foreign Office while accompanied by an influential pro-Israeli Conservative lobbyist, it has been reported. The Telegraph also reported that Patel had suggested to Netanyahu that the United Kingdom should give aid to the Israeli army. Clarifying her comments to the Guardian she said: "This quote may have given the impression that the Secretary of State had informed the Foreign Secretary about the visit in advance". United Kingdom ministers are required to notify the Foreign Office when conducting official business overseas, but Patel admitted that she failed to do so.
The Prime Minister only learned of the meetings on Friday - a day after she held a meeting with Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, in Downing Street to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. The situation is made worse by the fact that rather than informing Downing Street of her trip, both Patel and Johnson kept it entirely secret until it was unearthed by the media last week.
Ms Patel also faced fresh questions over how much she has told the PM this week about the meetings.
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"The prime minister met the secretary of state this morning to remind her of the obligations which exist under the ministerial code".
While Patel has apologised for misleading the public, critics have accused the minister of lying especially as she had kept details about her meeting secret for so long.
The Opposition also demanded the PM order a formal investigation into whether Ms Patel broke the ministerial code - which she is so far refusing to do.
"There hasn't been any change in policy resulting from that".
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The Secretary of State said she had seen for herself the work of Jewish charities in Israel, and said she was "struck by the achievements of the state of Israel".
Ms Patel is now facing calls to resign following the revelations, which also revealed that she was accompanied by Lord Polak, the honorary president of the Conservative Friends of Israel lobbying group, but no British officials were present at the sessions.
"I don't know what was in her mind when she said that".
In her clarification, Patel was forced to admit that she did not just meet with "people and organisations".
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Priti Patel, minister for worldwide development, had issued a formal apology yesterday for holding undisclosed meetings during a holiday visit to Israel.