Headlines > The Commons: Second cabinet minister forced to resign for breach of diplomacy

Posted on November 10, 2017

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Stanley Barrell-Kane updates us on what happened in parliament this week
Another one bites the dust in the Commons this week. The fall of Defence Secretary Michael Fallon last Wednesday was followed yesterday by the resignation of Priti Patel, the International Development Secretary.

Patel was found to have held secret meetings with senior Israeli officials including the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, back in August, which were not authorised by the Foreign Office.

Upon the first allegations coming to light, Patel responded in an interview with the Guardian by insisting that “Boris knew about it,” as well as stating that “[she] was on holiday, that’s all there is to it.”

She was forced to retract these claims on Monday however, and held a private meeting with the Prime Minister on the same day, in which she failed to disclose the full extent of her correspondence with Israeli officials.

It was also revealed after the meeting that Patel had proposed directing UK aid to the Israeli army, something she had also failed to mention.

Patel was subsequently recalled from her planned visit to Uganda and Ethiopia. Resulting in a media fiasco in which her plane was tracked live by journalists, and submitted her resignation on Wednesday.

Penny Mordaunt, viewed as one of the favourites to secure the Defence brief last week, was appointed as Patel’s replacement on Thursday.

Patel was subsequently recalled from her planned visit to Uganda and Ethiopia

Meanwhile at the Foreign Office, Boris Johnson attracted sharp criticism this week for potentially extending the prison sentence of a British citizen in Iran.

Ms. Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe was detained by Iranian authorities in March last year, while attempting to board a flight home. A major aspect of her legal defence remains that she was visiting the country on holiday, and not, as the Foreign Secretary claimed “teaching people journalism,” as had been the contention of the Iranian judiciary.

On Thursday, the Iranian state broadcaster suggested that this statement by Johnson was an admission that Zaghari Ratcliffe was operating as a British spy, and suggested it had ‘voided’ the UK’s attempts to have her freed.

Johnson’s careless statement could see her sentence doubled from 5 to 10 years. He is likely to be placed in front of a parliamentary committee to explain his statement, which he has not apologised for, though he has said he was sorry if his comments “had been taken out of context.”

Other news:
• Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, submitted an urgent question about the revelations of the so-called Paradise Papers on Monday. It is the biggest leak of financial information since the Panama Papers leaked in April last year, and pertains to the financial arrangements of many wealthy celebrities, such as Lewis Hamilton, and their efforts to avoid UK tax.

• As well as being caught up in scandal this week, on Tuesday Boris Johnson provided a Ministerial statement on anti-Daesh efforts, viewable here : https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09dlnnf/house-of-commons-07112017

• Parliament took its scheduled recess on Wednesday, so there was no PMQs. Parliament will return on Monday.

Stanley Barrell-Kane
Stanley Barrell-Kane is an A-level student at Fortismere school, and Exposure’s technocrat-in-chief. He writes mostly on Economics and Politics.
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