Priti Patel defends secret Israel meetings which saw her lose top cabinet job
Priti Patel has defended her decision to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a family holiday, despite it costing her her place on the Government’s frontbench.
The former International Development Secretary was forced to quit in November amid revelations that she met with top Israeli government officials and business figures without telling Downing Street.
In her first major TV interview since the debacle, Ms Patel apologised to ministers, but said there was “no malice” behind her actions and defended the visit as fulfilling her role.
And she dismissed suggestions the meetings could have been interpreted as a power play.
“I disagree with that. And I take the view that as a politician we all know other politicians around the world, whether you are abroad on business or even on holiday I think it’s remiss if you don’t actually go and meet people you know,” she told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
“That’s what I did. There was no malice intended at all.”
The unearthing of the reported 14 unofficial meetings led to Ms Patel being summoned back from ministerial business in Africa to Number 10 where she was made to stand down.
When asked if she accepted that she should have informed the Prime Minister of the visit, Ms Patel added: “In hindsight of course, absolutely. In hindsight, and that’s why I left the Government as obviously it caused clear difficulties for the government and I apologised for that.”
She continued: “I think it’s fair to say I have accepted that, I have apologised, there was no malice intended at the time and I left the Government.
“[Benjamin Netanyahu is] somebody that I know, I’ve met before, I had the opportunity to meet him.”