London: Priti Patel, Britain’s first Indian-origin Cabinet Minister resigned as International Development Secretary over her unauthorized secret meetings with Israeli politicians on Wednesday evening.
As Prime Minister Theresa May heads towards 2019’s Brexit that will shape Britain’s prosperity for generations, her minority government has stumbled into several controversies that risk shattering her dwindling authority.
Patel’s was the second Cabinet resignation within a week – Defence Secretary Michael Fallon resigned over sexual harassment allegations last Week. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is also facing calls for his resignation over incorrect comments made to a parliamentary select committee over a British-Iranian citizen imprisoned in Iran.
Ms Patel went behind Downing Street’s back to hold a series of meetings during a “family holiday” in August without her officials in Israel. She met the Prime Minister of Israel, and visited the occupied Golan Heights, which the UK has refused to recognise since Israel took them from Syria in 1967.
After a brief meeting with the Prime Minister in Downing Street, in her resignation letter, Ms. Patel apologised for the “distraction” the reports on her activities had created from the government’s operation. “While my actions were meant with the best of intentions, my actions also fell below the standards of transparency and openness that I have promoted and advanced,” she wrote.
Writing in response, Prime Minister Theresa May said it was “right” that she had decided to resign and “adhere to the high standards of transparency and openness that you have advocated.”
Ms. Patel, the MP for the Essex constituency of Witham entered Parliament in 2010. Born in London, she was appointed diaspora champion for the British Indian community by former Prime Minister David Cameron. She has been a strong cheerleader of the Modi government, publicly praising a number of its policies including demonetization.