British Cabinet Minister Priti Patel has stepped down from her post as International Development Secretary, after a scandal erupted over her failure to disclose her meetings with Israeli leaders including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. She forwarded her resignation after she was summoned to 10 Downing Street by Prime Minister Theresa May. In her letter, Patel said her conduct “fell below the high standards that are expected of a secretary of state”. The 45 year old has been under immense pressure ever since it was revealed that she did not keep May or her colleagues in the circle about 12 meetings she held with Israeli officials during a vacation in Israel in August.
“In hindsight, I can see how my enthusiasm to engage in this way could be misread, 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,” the Witham MP wrote. May stated it was right for Patel to quit “and adhere to the high standards of transparency and openness that you have advocated.” She also directed her Cabinet Office to look into tightening the ministerial code of conduct to avoid any such incidents in future. As per protocol, ministers have to inform the UK Foreign Office when they conduct official business overseas. Patel's meetings however, were not known to anyone. Her breach finds her accused of a major diplomatic gaffe in a highly politically sensitive area.
Reports suggest she visited an Israeli military field hospital at the Golan Heights during her August trip. When news of her visit broke in August, Patel said Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson “knew about the visit”. However, her department later clarified that “the foreign secretary did become aware of the visit, but not in advance of it.”