Priti Patel leaving 10 Downing Street. She exited via the back door – appropriately, considering the surreptitious nature of this affair [Image: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images].

What new charade is this?

Having been dragged back to the UK from a diplomatic visit to Kenya, Priti Patel has been allowed to resign, rather than being sacked by Theresa May.

The government has publicised – with indecent haste – both Ms Patel’s resignation letter and Mrs May’s letter of acceptance. They both run to considerable length and This Writer, for one, questions when the parties in this matter found time to write them.

And what about the way they are written?

“As you know from our discussions I accept that in meeting with organisations and politicians during a private holiday in Israel my actions fell below the high standards that are expected of a Secretary of State,” wrote Ms Patel (if you accept that she wrote it).

“While my actions were meant with the best of intentions, my actions also fell below the standards of transparency and openness that I have promoted and advocated.

“I offer a fulsome apology to you and to the Government for what has happened and offer my resignation.”

Fulsome apology? “Of large size or quantity, generous or abundant”? It doesn’t seem all that fulsome to This Writer.

And Theresa May’s response defies belief!

“Now that further details have come to light, it is right that you have decided to resign and adhere to the high standards of transparency and openness that you have advocated.”

What “high standards of transparency and openness”?

Priti Patel held secret meetings with Israeli politicians and organisations, and lied about having done so.

We still don’t know the full details of her itinerary during that “holiday” in Israel and we don’t know what meetings she has held with Israeli dignitaries thereafter.

And what was Downing Street’s actual involvement? The Jewish Chronicle has suggested that it was a little more than has been previously claimed.

And this is the nub of the matter.

By holding private meetings with a foreign power, Ms Patel has made it possible for the press to make damaging claims about the UK government – claims that may be accurate.

Downing Street has denied these claims. But what if the Jewish Chronicle ups the ante and provides proof?

What then?

This matter has demonstrated that Theresa May’s government has no interest in transparency and openness. Quite the opposite, in fact.

The minority Prime Minister will be hoping that it will go away, following the resignation of the offending minister.

It won’t.

We need to know exactly what happened, when it was arranged, with whom, who knew about it, who was there at the time, what was said about it afterwards and to whom, and whether all the information has been made public. My guess that it hasn’t.

Recent events involving Boris Johnson have shown that ministers cannot expect to be able to lie to us and expect us to accept it. We need the facts.

And if Theresa May can’t provide the answers, it won’t be one of her ministers who’ll need to resign.


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