Top Tory says Priti Patel was 'accelerated' to Cabinet because she is 'a great British Asian representative'
Priti Patel was “accelerated” to the Cabinet because she is a “great British Asian representative”, a senior Tory MP said today.
Former minister Crispin Blunt said Ms Patel, who is currently on her way back to the UK amid mounting expectation that she will be sacked, lacked “a grounding in ministerial experience”.
But he added it was a “great asset” for the Tories to “have a British Asian woman in a senior position in the party”.
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.
Mr Blunt, who chaired the powerful Foreign Affairs Committee from 2015 until June this year, described Ms Patel’s meetings as “a learning exercise” and urged viewers to have “some sympathy for young MPs who represent important constituencies”.
He told Sky News: “She’s a great British Asian representative in the Conservative party and has been accelerated through to very senior positions because we need good advocates of the whole community representing our party but with the lack of grounding in ministerial experience that then comes with that, sometimes these mistakes can be made.
“So, I would have been inclined to accept her apology but there may be more developments which means it’s gone beyond what the Prime Minister sees as acceptable.
Pressed on whether he thought Ms Patel was not suited to a senior ministerial role, he added:
“I’m not saying [she was not up to the job] but it’s very important that the Tory party, like all institutions, to bring on people who are going to be good advocates for the party and for the community and to that extent, Priti Patel is a huge asset to the Tory party, to have a British Asian woman in a senior position in the Conservative party is a great asset for us.
“Even if she pays the penalty here because of her lack of experience and the decisions she took on that experience, she’ll still be around and she’ll recover in the medium term because she’s got all the enthusiasm and talent that got her to where she is today.”