Rob Merrick — The Independent Nov 8, 2017
The International Development Secretary has cut short a trip to Africa to rush back for a second confrontation with a furious Prime Minister in Downing Street.
Her sudden return comes after her department admitted Ms Patel held two further meetings in September – which she failed to disclose when rebuked by Ms May on Monday.
One was with an official from Israeli foreign ministry and the other – held on the House of Commons terrace – with the minister for public security.
It is believed no UK government officials were present, but Ms Patel was accompanied by the president of the powerful Conservative Friends of Israel lobby group.
Fresh evidence also emerged to suggest the Cabinet minister deliberately avoided facing questions in the Commons on Tuesday, by bringing forward her flight to Kenya.
No 10 declined to comment on the latest revelations, but – given Ms Patel will not be back in Britain until the end of the day – there was speculation she could be dismissed on the flight.
Ms Patel’s position was already crumbling after it emerged she failed to tell Ms May about her plan to funnel UK foreign aid cash to the Israeli army.
The Prime Minister had demanded full details of her staggering 12 meetings during a 13-day “holiday” in August – including with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister.
The Foreign Office rejected the aid proposal, because it involved humanitarian operations in the Golan Heights, illegally occupied by Israel since 1967.
The Department for International Development (DfiD) has now revealed the further September meetings, with Gilad Erdan, the public security minister, and Yuval Rotem, the foreign ministry official.
Neither meeting was arranged or later reported in a way which accorded with proper procedures, sources at the department said.
Once a potential future Tory leader, Ms Patel is accused of effectively running her own foreign policy, in the critical and ultra-sensitive Middle East region.