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    Britain's Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel reacts to a question from the media as she arrives for a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in London, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017.

    'Sod Off!' Ex-Minister Patel's Brexit Intervention Elicits Social Media Ridicule

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    In a comeback few were presumably expecting, Priti Patel - who was forced to resign her cabinet post November 8 after holding secret meetings in Israel, unbeknownst to the Foreign Office or the Prime Minister - has resurfaced, to condemn the government's Brexit approach.

    Disgraced former UK International Development Secretary Priti Patel has cautioned the country is "ill-equipped" for Brexit talks and must take a firmer line with Brussels — by telling EU leaders to "sod off" over the divorce bill.

    Speaking at an event in London organised by The Spectator magazine, Ms. Patel said: "The Government has been ill-equipped in terms of preparations for the negotiations… It's not an ideal state at all."

    ​​Patel went on to slam Theresa May's administration for not properly articulating the economic opportunities she feels leaving the European Union offers.

    "We should have had conviction and clarity in terms of our end state and destination and presented that and been pretty forthright about it as well. My views on money are pretty clear, I don't like spending money so I would have told the EU in particular to sod off with their excessive financial demands," the shamed ex-minister continued.

    Priti Patel, then Secretary of State for International Development, arrives for a cabinet meeting after the general election in London, Monday, June 12, 2017.
    © AP Photo / Frank Augstein
    Priti Patel, then Secretary of State for International Development, arrives for a cabinet meeting after the general election in London, Monday, June 12, 2017.

    While acknowledging May was leading in "very challenging circumstances" and "struggling with a difficult set of cards post the election," Patel contended the government was failing to set out its Brexit vision with any clarity.

    "What are the economic opportunities for the City of London and for many other businesses and sectors in terms of leading out in the world and potentially trading with countries we have simply not been engaged with for not just years but for decades? The world is changing, the labour market is changing," she concluded.

    The broadside comes mere days before May is scheduled to travel to Brussels, and attempt to persuade the EU to move onto the new phase of talks, covering trade and transition. Deepening rows over key initial barriers to talks, such as the Irish border — the Republic signaled it would veto moves to trade talks without further guarantees against a "hard border" on the island — and citizens rights have precluded discussions about trade deals and the like from proceeding.

    READ MORE: Northern Irish Border May Become 'Lawless Space' Due to Hard Brexit

    Social Media Reactions

    Response to the resurfaced ex-minister's intervention on social media has been less than positive.

    Comeback Kid

    Patel was unceremoniously forced from her ministry after the BBC revealed she had attended meetings in Israel in August 2017 without informing the Foreign Office, in breach of the ministerial code. The Prime Minister was also not apprised of the assorted rendezvous.

    Up to a dozen meetings may have been convened, all while Patel was officially on "private holiday" — she met with Yair Lapid, leader of Israel's centrist Yesh Atid party, and reportedly made visits to several organisations where official departmental business was discussed.

    ​​Following the meetings, Patel recommended the Department for International Development give international aid money to field hospitals run by the Israeli army in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights region of Syria. Although these hospitals have been described by UK officials as "providing medical support" for Syrian refugees, Israeli officials have refused to identify whether they in fact treat rebel forces.

    The meetings were exposed while Patel was again away from the UK — after Downing Street summoned her back to the country to explain herself, in an extraordinary turn thousands tracked her flight online.

    Patel resigned November 8, after 16 months in the post. She was replaced by pro-Brexit MP Penny Mordaunt the following day. In her resignation letter, the Witham MP made clear she would be outspoken about Brexit from the backbenches.


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