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The 'Priti' Sky-High Price of UK MP Patel's Departure to Cost Taxpayers $11K

© AP Photo / Ajit SolankiPriti Patel speaks during the inauguration of Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Gandhinagar, India, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015.
Priti Patel speaks during the inauguration of Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Gandhinagar, India, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. - Sputnik International
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As political dramas go, it was box office gold - high-profile minister ordered to fly back to the UK to face the sack over secret meeting with politicians from a foreign country, only to resign, leaving the British government in crisis - and with a hefty bill.

In political terms the Priti Patel affair has proved costly for UK Prime Minister Theresa May, following the resignation of the cabinet minister who broke the strict ministerial code by meeting senior Israeli politicians.

© AFP 2021 / Oli ScarffBritain's International Development Secretary Priti Patel delivers her speech on the third day of the Conservative Party annual conference at the Manchester Central Convention Centre in Manchester on October 3, 2017.
Britain's International Development Secretary Priti Patel delivers her speech on the third day of the Conservative Party annual conference at the Manchester Central Convention Centre in Manchester on October 3, 2017.  - Sputnik International
Britain's International Development Secretary Priti Patel delivers her speech on the third day of the Conservative Party annual conference at the Manchester Central Convention Centre in Manchester on October 3, 2017.

Now details are emerging surrounding the financial bill facing the British taxpayers.

The decision taken by Mrs. May to order the former international development secretary to abort an official visit to Africa on Wednesday, November 8, and return immediately to Britain to "face the music" is expected to cost in the region of US$11,000.

It has been estimated that the abortive round trip to Nairobi, Kenya, will have left the taxpayer with a bill of thousands of pounds in wasted airfares, had Ms. Patel remained in Britain to face her critics.

So Long, Farewell Ms. Patel

Having been reprimanded on Monday, November 6, by Mrs. May over her decision to stage a series of undisclosed meetings with Israeli political figures, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a family holiday, the ex-cabinet minister apologized and planned to go ahead with an pre-arranged visit to Africa the following day.

A placard showing a picture of Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, saying You can't trust her is raised in front of the Elizabeth Tower, commonly referred to as Big Ben as protesters gather in Parliament Square after marching through central London on June 21, 2017. - Sputnik International
Brexit, Sex and Priti Secret Ties: Does UK PM Theresa May Have Herself to Blame?

Her flight was due to leave London Heathrow airport at 5:25 p.m. GMT on Tuesday, November 7, only for Ms. Patel to opt for an earlier flight to Nairobi at 10:10 a.m., possibly knowing in advance that the opposition planned to quiz her over the Israeli furor after tabling an emergency question.

The Bill

 

  • Changing flight plans on Kenya Airways comes at a penalty of US$317 (£240) on some business class tickets, but only if a day's notice is given — ka-ching!
  • Two last minute business class return tickets on Kenya Airways would cost up to US$7,760 (£5,878), according to the airline's website — ka-ching!
  • The minister was due to fly to Entebbe in Uganda with UK international trade secretary Liam Fox, only to be summoned back by the prime minister, thus two business returns from Nairobi to Entebbe would have cost another US$2,407 (£1,823) to the cost of the trip — ka-ching!

 

A full disclosure of the total cost of the trip has still to be detailed by Ms. Patel's former department, although it is not expected they will receive much change from US$10,561 (£8,000).

Perhaps with costs in mind, Ms. Patel and her private secretary — who accompanied her on the visit — stayed at the home of the British high commissioner in Nairobi to avoid accommodation costs.

Shadow international development secretary Kate Osamor has branded the whole episode as "unacceptable."

"It was simply unacceptable that Priti Patel failed to show up to the urgent question in parliament. She should not have been allowed to get on that plane. We deserve to know how much this fiasco has ended up costing the British taxpayer," she said.

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