Priti Patel

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Priti Patel

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A profile

The Times of India; May 12 2015

Cabinet minister in new UK govt

Kounteya Sinha

Indian-origin Tory MP Priti Patel has been appointed minister of state for employment in British Prime Minister David Cameron's new cabinet. Patel, who called her new posting at the department for work and pensions “a real privilege“, won the recent elections by securing 58% of the votes from Witham. She was the exchequer secretary to the treasury from July 2014 to May 2015. The 43-year-old was first elected the MP for Witham in May 2010.

During his trip to India in November 2013, Cameron had said: “I've made a personal commitment to strengthening UK-India relations because I believe we can be one of the great partnerships of the 21st century. And I firmly believe that British Indians -who already bring so much to our country -can play a vital role forging this strong relationship. To date, I don't think we've made the most of all they have to offer so I've appointed Priti Patel as our diaspora champion.“

The cabinet has got another minister of South Asian origin: Sajid Javid, the son of a bus driver and former banker, has been made the new business secretary, replacing Vince Cable. He recently oversaw the installation of Mahatma Gandhi's statue at Parliament Square.

London mayor Boris Johnson has not been made a minister but will attend “po litical cabinet“ meetings. He will be the first to simultaneously serve in the cabinet and as the mayor of London since the local government position was created in 2000.

“Boris Johnson will be attending my Political Cabinet,“ Cameron tweeted. “As promised, he will devote his attention to his final year as Mayor of London.“

David Miliband blames brother Ed for Labour's loss

David Miliband, former foreign secretary of Britain and known best in India for spending a night at the home of a Dalit family in Semra village of Uttar Pradesh along with Rahul Gandhi, has criticized his brother Ed's leadership of the Labour Party. Putting to rest speculation that he would return from New York to take up the vacant post of leader of the Labour Party, Miliband said his brother Ed lost the elections because voters “did not want what was being offered“. -Kounteya Sinha

Career highlights

Secret meetings with Israeli officials

PIO minister in UK faces sack over secret talks with Israelis, Nov 9, 2017: The Times of India

Britain's seniormost Indian-origin minister, Priti Patel, is facing a very serious prospect of losing her cabinet post after it emerged that she had two further meetings with Israeli officials that were not disclosed through the proper procedure.

The international development minister, who was in Africa on an official visit to Uganda and Ethiopia, has had to abandon her tour and fly back to London on Wednesday “at the request of the PM“.

Downing Street, which has declined to comment further on the matter, had earlier said that PM Theresa May had accepted Patel's apology over a series of meetings while she was on a holiday in Israel in August, without reporting them to the foreign office.

But new revelations about her further meetings with Israeli officials following that visit have made her position within the Cabinet very precarious. It is understood Patel, 45, met Israel's public security minister, Gilad Erdan, in the UK Parliament complex in early September and an Israeli foreign ministry official, Yuval Rotem, in New York later that month. Ministers are required to tell the UK foreign office when they are conducting official business overseas, but it had emerged that British diplomats in Israel were not informed about any of Patel's meetings -which included a meeting with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and other political figures as well as charity organisations.

Opposition parties have been calling for Patel's resignation as the minister in charge of the department for international development (DfID) and the country's aid budget if it emerges that she breached the ministerial code of conduct.

Patel, the Conservative party MP for Witham in Essex, had issued an apology on Monday and attributed the unreported meetings to “enthusiasm“. “In hindsight, I can see how my enthusiasm to engage in this way could be mis-read, and how meetings were set up and reported in a way which did not accord with the usual procedures. I am sorry for this and I apologise for it,“ she said in a statement. Her conduct had already led Theresa May to direct her cabinet office to look into tightening the ministerial code of conduct to avoid any such incidents in the future.

Downing Street was also forced to deny that Patel's meetings in Israel had led to any change of political stance on the region after it emerged that in the wake of her visit in August, Patel had discussed potentially providing some of Britain's aid money to Israel's armed forces which run field hospitals in the Golan Heights area. Britain does not officially recognise Israeli occupation of the area and DfID was reportedly advised against any such move.

Tweet by Israeli hosts sealed Patel's fate

Naomi Canton, Prexit: Tweet by Israeli hosts sealed Patel's fate?, November 10, 2017: The Times of India

 Was it a “gaffe“ on Twitter by her Israeli hosts that led to the sacking of Priti Patel? Patel, the first Indianorigin woman in a British Cabinet, was forced to quit as UK international development secretary for holding unauthorised meetings with Israeli ministers during a private holiday -a matter first tweeted by her Israeli hosts.

On August 24, Yair Lapid, leader of Israel's Yesh Atid party , had tweeted: “Great to meet with Priti Patel. Today .A true friend of Israel.“ That was when the foreign office first became aware of her trip.

Last Friday , during Israel PM Benjamim Netanyahu's visit to London, UK media reported that Patel had held official meetings in Israel, during a family holiday between August 13 and 25, which she paid for herself, without informing the foreign office, Number 10 or the British embassy .They only came to know of her trip whilst in Israel.

Also, Patel was not accompanied by any diplomatic staff nor briefed by officials, nor did she meet Palestinian representatives, in a breach of convention, diplomatic protocol and UK policy .

Patel swiftly gave an interview to The Guardian stating that foreign secretary Boris Johnson knew about her trip in advance. But Labour party demanded a probe claiming she broke the ministerial code.

On Monday , Patel was sum moned to Downing Street to be reprimanded. Patel issued a statement detailing that she had held 12 meetings with Israeli ministers, businesses and charities, arranged by Lord Polak, and these had included a meeting with Netanyahu with whom she discussed “prospects for closer collabo ration between Israel and the UK“ and India. On her return, she commissioned departmental work on humanitarian tie-ups between Israel and the UK. On Tuesday , it emerged that Patel had discussed using British foreign aid for Syrian refugees being treated at an Israel army-run hospital in the Golan Heights, which Britain does not recognise as Israel.

Then on Wednesday there were reports of further secret meetings with Erdan in parliament on September 7 and Rotem in New York on September 18. The same day there were reports in the Jewish media she had visited the Israel military field hospital in the Golan Heights. Ministers do not visit illegally occupied territories.This was the final straw and May , who had been unaware for two months Patel had met Netanyahu for two months, ordered her return from Africa.

May picks Brexiteer to replace Priti

British PM Theresa May on Thursday promoted a junior minister to replace ousted aid secretary Priti Patel, avoiding a major shuffle and maintaining the delicate Brexit balance in her cabinet. May named Penny Mordaunt, a minister in the welfare department and a strong supporter of Britain's withdrawal from the European Union, as her new international development secretary.

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