May’s government is in a Priti pickle...
It’s the stench that hits you. The stench of a government and its authority rapidly rotting away. Ministers being forced to stand down, questions over how long the leader can survive. These things always follow a pattern.
Like Labour in 1979 when the Scottish Nationalists refused to keep us in power, and in 1997 when John Major’s fag-ash government was finally blown away by the winds of change.
But at least both governments had five years in power before they fell. Theresa May is just five months into her “strong and stable” government and already it feels like it’s in its death throes.
And all in a week when we’ve seen the Defence Secretary resign and the First Secretary of State subject to a Cabinet Office inquiry.
We also have a Foreign Secretary whose false comments to a parliamentary committee about a UK mum could add another five years to her jail sentence in Iran.
A strong and stable government would be able to give Boris Johnson the boot. May’s too feeble to do it.
But nothing highlighted how weak and wobbly May has become than the farce over her now former International Development Secretary Priti Patel.
I find it remarkable that a minister fixed up her own meetings with the Israeli government without telling our Foreign Office, lied about it – then discussed giving aid to Israel’s army for a project in illegal settlements Britain doesn’t even recognise.
What’s worse was that when Patel was meeting the Israeli PM, Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt was there meeting junior government officials.
I remember the fights that took place between the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development when Labour was in government. When we came to power in 1997, we took international aid away from the Foreign Office to set up the DFID.
The FO always hated that and relations between the ministers – Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and International Development Secretary Clare Short – were always icy.
The Foreign Office will have been delighted that Patel has gone and I’ve no doubt they’ve briefed against her to the media.
But the most damning example of May’s political impotence is how Patel left the Government.
After being summoned back from a trip to Africa with the world monitoring the flight’s progress online, Priti Patel strolls into Downing Street and announces she’s resigned.
If that was Tony Blair or Gordon Brown, she’d have been sacked
I was delighted to entertain my grandkids at my house on November 5. My granddaughter Ava Grace thought it was wonderful, but wanted to know why we had a bonfire and guy, rockets and fireworks. I explained it was to celebrate the night in 1605 when a group of people tried to blow up and destroy Parliament. To which she replied: “But isn’t that what’s happening now?” She’s not wrong. days ago. Instead, Priti smiled to the cameras as she left to return to the backbenches as a cheerleader for Brexiteers and a future leadership challenger.
Tony Blair famously said that Major was “weak, weak, weak”. But May is dead, dead, dead. Even a turkey has a better chance of getting to Christmas than terrible Theresa.
She’ll try to get agreement on the Brexit divorce bill by the end of the year so that talks can begin on a transitional deal after we leave the EU in 2019. But that won’t be enough. Once a prime minister has lost the confidence of her collapsing cabinet, her backbenchers and the country, she’ll be shuffled off just like Thatcher.
The Government is in chaos, deeply divided, lacking vision and a disgrace to past administrations.
It’s being led by a prime minister with no authority as the fish rots from the head.
It is time for her to go and give the electorate the strong and stable government it really needs.
I’ve seen the future. And it’s not Priti for May.
OUT Priti Patel