The developing story of Priti Patel’s numerous undeclared and secret meetings with senior Israeli officials in Israel looks to be leading to the fall from grace of another senior Tory minister.
Last Wednesday we saw the shock resignation of Sir Michael Fallon, this week it looks like the sacking of Priti Patel is “inevitable”. With swirling accusations surrounding Damian Green, and Boris Johnson in hot water over his comments regarding the detained British citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Theresa May must really be beginning to wish she was anyone but Prime Minister right about now.
September brought a huge storm of leadership questions and whispers of mounting challenges after what was labelled a ‘disastrous’ May performance at the party conference in Manchester. October provided a brief and blissful respite for the beleaguered PM, but it seems November has arrived with its own growing set of problems. Theresa May has been at fault for many of the high profile events that have weakened her position, most notably of course the General Election called earlier this summer, in a bid to take advantage of the sizeable poll lead the Tories then held over Labour. A bid that as we all know, ended in sizeable losses for the Tory government.
But more often than not, May has faced damaging circumstances out of her control. Her closing speech in the September Party Conference was hampered by a heavy cold and a breakaway protester, projecting weakness when the content of the speech offered a strong Conservative position. The unravelling sex scandal surrounding the political sphere has hit both government and opposition hard, but May is hardly responsible for the actions of the likes of Fallon over fifteen years ago. Likewise the secret movements of Patel, whilst May could have kept a closer eye on her, are more the actions of a senior minister abusing her position than the PM being off the ball.
Pressure is growing on May to sack Patel from her role as Secretary of State for International Development. Calls have been coming to relieve Johnson of his duties for several days now. Green presented evidence to a Cabinet Office Conduct Inquiry yesterday. Her replacement for Fallon, Gavin Williamson, drew widespread criticism and has yet to prove a popular choice.
May cuts a figure under siege at the moment, surrounded by rising crises and growing opposition on almost all sides. The PM has been under fire for several months now, her position continually challenged, publicly and privately, and with high profile allies falling away. Questions will naturally soon be raised once again as to whether May will be able to keep control of power.
Bombarded by these questions, Theresa May might rightly wonder what she’s done to end up in such a worrying situation, and how much longer she can keep ahead of the dogs snapping at her heels.
With her government seemingly doing its best to implode around her, is this the beginning of the end for May’s leadership?