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I don't know what Priti Patel was thinking, admits Iain Duncan Smith

08 November 2017

Theresa May is under pressure to launch an investigation into one of her Cabinet ministers for failing disclose holding meetings with top Israeli officials.

"Patel has a history of showing favouritism to Israel and is suspected to cut or divert the essential aid that the United Kingdom sends to the Palestine Authority", Slaughter told MEE.

Patel apologized for failing to comply with the usual procedures that oblige ministers to inform the British Foreign Office before doing official business overseas and said she regretted her statement that Foreign Minister Boris Johnson was aware of the visit in advance.

Mr Trickett said the PM should either call in her independent adviser on ministerial standards or "state publicly and explain your full reasons for why Priti Patel retains your confidence despite clear breaches of the ministerial code".

Labour MP Maria Eagle, a former Labour minister, said Patel should step down from the Cabinet. It is a total breach of the code. "And every code of ministerial conduct that I have ever seen as a minister of some nine years standing in previous governments, I would have thought this was a resigning matter", she said.

There was also anger that Ms Patel refused to delay her Uganda trip to duck being hauled in front of angry MPs who tabled an urgent question for her to answer in the Commons.

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And he added: "The Secretary of State has been clear with Number 10 that on no other occasions while a minister has she organised meetings with foreign government ministers outside the normal channels while on holiday". "But it may have been - and that's what I take it as - that these were not planned as meetings and they came later on". I am publishing a list of who I met.‎ The Foreign and Commonwealth Office was aware of my visit while it was underway‎.

The Balfour Declaration, she said, had been "indispensable" in the creation of a great nation, "a liberal democracy and hi-tech nation", and she believed there are many opportunities for Israel and Britain to extend and improve their partnership. "She got that wrong".

She said they had also been attended by Stuart Polak, the honorary president of the Conservative Friends of Israel and an influential pro-Israel lobbyist.

On returning from her trip, Patel commissioned Dfid work on disability and humanitarian and development partnerships between Israel and the UK.

Asked about Patel's reported wish to use British aid money to help fund Israeli army activity, Burt said: "Because we regard Golan Heights as occupied territory and because we cannot support Israeli occupation of it, or give them any support, the answer to her query was "no".

Burt said if he had met with Israeli officials "I would have told the ambassador of course".

I don't know what Priti Patel was thinking, admits Iain Duncan Smith