PM under pressure to reveal what she knew about Israeli meetings
Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson has written to Theresa May demanding answers about Government officials’ knowledge of Ms Patel’s activities.
Prime Minister Theresa May faced questions about the Government’s knowledge of Priti Patel’s unofficial Israel meetings following her resignation as international development secretary.
Labour is set to continue pressing for more information about how much – and when – the Prime Minister knew about Ms Patel’s secret meetings with senior Israeli figures.
Shadow international development secretary Kate Osamor said Mrs May must either get control of her “decaying government” following the resignation of Ms Patel or step aside and let Labour govern.
And deputy Labour leader Tom Watson has written to Mrs May demanding answers about officials’ knowledge of Ms Patel’s activities during a holiday in Israel in August.
Ms Osamor said: “Priti Patel appears to have breached the Ministerial Code, gone behind the Government’s back, and misled the British public.
“After initially denying the allegations, then repeatedly changing her story and failing to disclose all of her meetings, it is right that she has now resigned. But we still need to know what was discussed in these meetings and what Number 10 and the Foreign Office knew and when.
“Theresa May must get control of her chaotic cabinet and decaying government or step aside for Labour to govern for the many not the few.”
Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson has written to Mrs May demanding answers on what the Government knew about Ms Patel’s meetings during her private holiday in Israel in August, which lasted from August 13 to 25.
I’m told Priti Patel *did* meet FCO officials during her trip to Israel. I’m writing to Theresa May to get clarity. pic.twitter.com/gSrlAcIpgh— Tom Watson (@tom_watson) November 8, 2017
In his letter he said: “I have been informed that while she was in Israel, Ms Patel met officials from the British consulate general Jerusalem, but that the fact of this meeting has not been made public.
“If this were the case, then it would surely be impossible to sustain the claim that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was not aware of Ms Patel’s presence in Israel.
“The existence of such a meeting or meetings would call into question the official account of Ms Patel’s behaviour, and the purpose of her visit.”
Middle East Minister Alistair Burt told MPs on Tuesday that Foreign Office officials in Israel were made aware of Ms Patel’s visit on August 24 and it was likely that her meetings had taken place beforehand.
To be clear. I am preparex to accept Mrs May's resignation.— Chris Bryant (@RhonddaBryant) November 8, 2017
Ms Patel only made Mrs May aware of the meetings on Friday, more than two months after they took place, when reports began to emerge of talks she held with a politician and a disability charity.
Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokeswoman Jo Swinson said: “Priti Patel has rightly been forced to step down for her cover up of meetings with foreign officials and the inappropriate requests for aid to be sent to the Israeli military in the Golan Heights.
“This was an appalling error of judgment 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.
“It is right that Patel has gone but Theresa May’s office now needs to reveal honestly what they knew and when.”
The SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, said: “This has been utterly humiliating for the Prime Minister. Theresa May couldn’t manage a resignation without making a global shambles of it.”