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    British Prime Minister Theresa May waits for the arrival of European Council President Donald Tusk prior to a bilateral meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk during an EU summit in Brussels on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017

    'Remarkable Scandal': Patel Saga Sign of 'How Unstable Theresa May's Gov't Is'

    © AP Photo/ Geert Vanden Wijngaert, Pool
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    Priti Patel has been ordered back from Africa by the PM, following controversy over her meeting with Israeli officials.

    Priti Patel was formally reprimanded in Downing Street on Monday, November 6, where she was asked to give details about a dozen meetings she had with Israeli officials while on an alleged holiday, which were not authorized by the the UK Foreign Office.

    Dr. Martin Farr, Senior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary History told Sputnik that this is a remarkable scandal and shows just how unstable Theresa May's government is.

    Sputnik: Essentially how significant is it that Britain's Secretary of State for International Development is conducting secret meetings with the Israeli officials including meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu?

    Dr. Farr: It's a remarkable scandal and a sign of how unstable this government is, that its many of scandals at the moment that threaten to destabilize the government. In any news cycle it would be a major story but it's coming at the same time as major the parliamentary sexual harassment scandal sweeping Westminster; and of course the foreign secretary Boris Johnson being responsible for the incarceration of a British national in Iran.

    It's an absolute understood convention that ministers do not deal with other areas of responsibility without the expressed permission of the relevant minister.

    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.
    © AFP 2018/ Oli Scarff
    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.

    It's a very strange thing for her to do on holiday — to conduct private meetings with the Israeli government, and to then suggest linking British aid to the Israeli army or its humanitarian activity in the Occupied Territory is astonishing, considering the controversy of the Israeli government.

    Essentially what she did doesn't make any sense personally politically or in terms of what the British government's foreign policy is. 

    Sputnik: What effect will this have on Theresa May's already fragile government?

    Dr. Farr: The reason why this very sensitive is that the government has virtually no majority in the House of Commons. The government has been very keen to promote "leavers" [those in favor of leaving the EU], despite the PM not being a leaver herself. Also Patel is an example of a female BME — a person of black, or, mixed ethnicity — a demographic rare in parliament and especially in the Conservative party.

    There's a fear of that by sacking ministers it is creating an alternative consensus in the Conservative party when the government has such a small majority. All these scandals are essentially revealing the increasing weakness of the prime minister, a weakness brought about by her calling an election the she expected to win.

    Sputnik: Alongside former defense minister, Michael Fallon, with another ally close to the prime minister likely to dismissed by the end of this week, is likely we could see a vote of no confidence issued? Essentially is this another nail in Theresa may's coffin?

    Dr. Farr: Her coffin was reasonably closed before this point. There is no way she will lead the government or Conservative party into the next election, it's a matter of a time. The only reason why she hasn't been replaced is that is no obvious replacement, and that it makes much more sense for her to deal with the issue of Brexit and for someone to succeed to her. There probably will be a vote of no confidence, but it's likely the government will win it because they can command a majority for it.

    The absolute last thing the Conservative party want right now is another general election, which may produce a Labour government, a government which has a great level of hostility to the state of Israel, as far as the occupied territories are concerned. So a very different focus for this particular policy area, which has caused the latest scandal of an increasingly scandal ridden government.    


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    general election, leadership battle, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Conservative Party, UK Parliament, UK Government, Boris Johnson, Theresa May, Priti Patel, Israel, Europe, Britain, United Kingdom
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