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More ministers are under pressure after two resign in just eight days

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Issue 2580
Two down, more to go?
Two down, more to go? (Pic: Official portraits from Number 10)

Priti Patel resigned from the cabinet last week. It followed the demise of Michael Fallon as defence secretary.

That’s two cabinet ministers gone in the space of eight days. Both remain as MPs.

Patel was forced out as international development secretary after details emerged of her 14 unauthorised meetings with Israeli politicians, officials and organisations.

Patel was accompanied by Lord Polak, honorary president of the Conservative Friends of Israel lobby group, which has given the Tories almost £400,000.

On her return, Patel pressed British officials to divert British aid money to the Israeli army to support operations in the Golan Heights. This is the area seized from Syria in 1967.

Patel was a champion of the hard Brexit right in the cabinet and her demise was bitterly resented by those Tories who are already suspicious that May is “betraying Britain”.

May replaced Patel with Penny Mordaunt, who shares Patel’s views on Brexit.

Patel and Fallon may not be the last cabinet ministers to go.

As well as Boris Johnson (see below), May’s second-in-command Damian Green remains in the spotlight.

Tory sexual harassment crisis shows that Parliament is a cesspit
Tory sexual harassment crisis shows that Parliament is a cesspit
  Read More

He faces an allegation of sexual harassment from former Conservative activist Kate Maltby. Green denies the allegation.

Last week another top cop, Sir Paul Stephenson, confirmed that pornography had been found on Green’s office computer during a 2008-9 police investigation.

The allegations were first made public by former Met Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick. Green said then that his accusers had “ulterior motives”.

Presumably he thinks the same about the second cop’s claims.

Green’s home and office were searched in 2008 and he was briefly arrested in November that year.

He faced no further action.

Both Stephenson and Quick gave evidence to a Cabinet Office inquiry into Green’s conduct last week. The inquiry, which is being held behind closed doors, is also looking at the sexual harassment issue.

Green should go. And if he does it will deepen May’s crisis.


Boris Johnson is caught out

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson may have caused a British woman to spend years longer in an Iranian jail.

His reckless comments would already have seen him sacked if Theresa May was not in such a weak position.

In September Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was jailed for five years on allegations of spying and attempting to topple the Iranian regime.

Earlier this month, she was brought back to court and threatened with further charges after Johnson told a Commons committee that she had been training journalists at the time of her arrest.

Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, says his wife is under extreme stress and that Johnson must “make amends”.

A picture has also emerged of Johnson at a dinner with Joseph Mifsud.

Mifsud is linked to the probe into Donald Trump’s links with Russia and was named in the statement of charges against George Papadopoulos.

Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign staffer, pleaded guilty to lying in evidence he gave to the FBI.

It emerged he had been offered “dirt” on Hillary Clinton during the election campaign. 

Johnson has denied having ever met Mifsud.

Another budget for the rich

Chancellor Philip Hammond’s budget on Wednesday of next week will offer no real change from austerity.

Hammond is likely to say that, in his terms, the public sector pay cap has ended.

But the rise he envisages will not match inflation, let alone reach the 5 percent several unions are demanding.

And any extra money will come from already overstretched budgets.

Nor will there be a big shift on housing. The Tories have failed to agree a new housing programme.

The Treasury had been considering a small increase in tax on buy-to-let landlords.

But even this tiny change is now likely to be ditched.

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