Priti Patel ordered back to UK by Theresa May as her job hangs in the balance
Priti Patel was racing back to the UK at the order of Theresa May this morning amid mounting expectation that she will be sacked over her secret meetings with Israeli officials.
The International Development Secretary has been forced to cut short an official trip to Africa in order to learn her fate at Number 10.
Ms Patel has been mired in controversy since it emerged she set up the meetings - including one with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu - during a family holiday in August.
Neither Downing Street or the Foreign Office were informed of the get-togethers in advance, and Mrs May only found out about the Netanyahu meeting last Friday.
It has also emerged that she proposed handing aid cash to the Israeli army and quietly met with two top ministers from Tel Aviv after returning to London.
The meetings appear to be a breach of the ministerial code as ministers are expected to tell Downing Street in advance if they will be undertaking any official Government business while abroad.
However, the Prime Minister has been reluctant to sack her colleague so soon after Defence Secretary Michael Fallon was forced to quit over sexual harassment allegations.
Ms Patel flew to Nairobi last night on the way to an official visit in Uganda, but she got back on a plane home this morning rather than continue her onward journey.
A Number 10 told PoliticsHome: “She is en route back at the request of the PM.”
Top Tory MP Bernard Jenkin this morning suggested Ms Patel had made a mistake due to lack of experience and should have been trained in how not to break the ministerial code.
“We tend to put quite inexperienced people into very senior jobs with no induction or training and then they finish up making these mistakes,” he told Radio 4’s Today programme.
Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Jon Trickett has demanded a formal investigation into whether Ms Patel broke the ministerial code. He insisted there have been four “clear breaches”.
Mrs May has asked for the ministerial code to be tightened in light of the controversy.