Priti Patel has resigned from the Cabinet. Patel said that she accepted her decision to hold meetings with Israeli officials during her summer holiday without the prior say so of the government meant that her ‘actions fell below the high standards that are expected of a secretary of state’. The secretary of state for international development went on to ‘offer a fulsome apology’ to the Prime Minister. Theresa May responded by saying ‘now that further details have come to light’ about exactly what Patel got up to on her summer jaunt, ‘it is right that you have decided to resign’.
Her resignation tonight is not much of a surprise. Westminster has spent the day watching the progress of Patel’s journey back from Africa and it was clear that when she landed at Heathrow there was only one fate awaiting her. After it emerged last night that Patel had conducted a number of other, apparently undeclared, meetings with Israeli officials in September, it seemed inevitable she would have to walk. Now, it’s official.
The government will be keen to draw a line under this resignation, which comes almost exactly a week to the very moment that Michael Fallon stepped down from the Cabinet. It seems we will have to wait for tomorrow to learn who replaces Patel and also find out whether May opts for another tinkering of the Cabinet – as she did in picking a replacement for Fallon – or whether she take s greater risk in opting for a wider reshuffle.
Either way, the government’s options are limited. It is vital for May that in the wake of a disastrous fortnight in which she has now lost two ministers, some semblance of stability is resumed. But given her precarious position, that will be no easy task.