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Focus in Priti Patel row switches to what Downing Street really knew

8 November 2017

11:20 AM

8 November 2017

11:20 AM

Priti Patel is on her way back to Britain to face the music following her strange holiday-cum-lobbying operation in Israel. Yesterday it emerged that the International Development Secretary had not told Number 10 that she had suggested giving humanitarian aid to the Israeli army in the Golan Heights. It has been so heavily briefed that she is expected to be sacked that there is little chance that the minister will get away with just another reminder of her responsibilities.

But there’s an awkward extra element for Number 10 this morning, which is the claim reported in the Jewish Chronicle that the British government did in fact know about Patel’s meeting with Netanyahu hours after it took place, and that Number 10 instructed her not to list her meeting with Israel foreign ministry official Yuval Rotem in New York on 18 September for fear that it would embarrass the Foreign Office.

Number 10 was telling journalists yesterday that the meetings had been raised at the end of August. So the focus is now switching from what Patel didn’t tell Theresa May to what Downing Street did already know about her meetings. And this means that a sacking won’t be enough, if it turns out that Number 10 isn’t functioning as it should be.

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