I don't know what Priti Patel was thinking, admits Iain Duncan Smith
00:41, Nov 8, 2017
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Britain's global development minister Priti Patel discussed with Isreal the idea of giving the country British foreign aid cash, Downing Street confirmed Tuesday.
It was confirmed that Ms Patel did not reveal her meetings only afterwards.
The global development secretary, Priti Patel, held undisclosed meetings in Israel without telling the Foreign Office while accompanied by an influential pro-Israeli Conservative lobbyist, it has been reported.
Such meetings could constitute a violation of Britain's ministerial protocol.
She falsely suggested that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had authorised her meetings.
"The Foreign and Commonwealth Office was aware of my visit while it was under way".
Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett said Ms Patel should face a probe led by the standards advisor, after she was reprimanded personally by the PM. While away I had the opportunity to meet a number of people and organisations.
"In hindsight, I can see how my enthusiasm to engage in this way could be misread, and how meetings were set up and reported in a way which did not accord with the usual procedures".
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Patel insisted that she had gone to Israel on a "family holiday" but her trip, which was organised by Lord Polak honorary president of Conservative Friends of Israel, was described by critics as an attempt to win favour with wealthy pro-Israeli Conservative donors who could fund a potential future leadership campaign.
That she didn't report the meetings - which took place over two days - has sparked fears that Patel used her "holiday", in August, as a cover to surreptitiously discuss official United Kingdom government business with Israeli politicians and representatives of Israeli organisations. "I am sorry for this and I apologize for it".
The department has not yet responded to questions from Sky News, but Downing Street previously said Ms Patel was on a private holiday "paid for by herself".
On Monday, Ms Patel issued a statement to say her Tel Aviv meetings were to discuss "prospects for closer collaboration between Israel and the United Kingdom on development and humanitarian issues".
"This is another out-of-control minister in [British Prime Minister] Theresa May's weak government, but this time with implications for Britain's standing in the world as an honest broker and model for fairness in distributing aid".
"No I think exactly what has happened is she's had these meetings, I assume these were not meetings that were originally scheduled, and that having had these meetings she's then informed Boris Johnson and the Foreign Office of what took place in those meetings".
Downing Street said the premier had accepted her apology and considered the matter closed. May yesterday summoned Patel to No 10 to "remind her of the obligations which exist under the ministerial code".
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