Brexiteer Penny Mordaunt to replace Priti Patel as DFID boss

Theresa May reshuffles Cabinet as Labour demands details about Patel’s Israel trip

(Image credit: Credit: Getty photos)

Brexit-supporting minister Penny Mordaunt was today named as Priti Patel’s replacement as international development secretary.

The appointment of Mordaunt, who was minister for disabled people, comes just a week after Michael Fallon quit as defence secretary - leaving Theresa May battling to get her crisis-hit government back on track.

“Having faced a major backlash from MPs over her decision to appoint close ally Gavin Williamson after Sir Michael Fallon resigned over sleaze allegations seven days ago, Mrs May will be hoping her latest move is better received,” the Daily Mail says.

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The Prime Minister yesterday summoned Patel back from an official trip to Africa following revelations that Patel held a series of “secret” meetings with Israeli officials, including PM Benjamin Netanyahu, without informing the Foreign Ministry or May beforehand. Or at least, that’s Downing Street’s spin on events.

Labour, however, are not content to let the row die down following Patel’s resignation last night.

The opposition party is urging May to state exactly what she and her colleagues knew about Patel’s unofficial meetings during a “family holiday” in Israel in August, reports Scottish newspaper The Herald.

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson wrote to the PM demanding details - and pointing to evidence that the Foreign Office may have known what Patel was doing. If true, that could suggest a Downing Street or Foreign Office cover-up at the highest levels.

“I was told that the Foreign Office deliberately asked Downing Street to remove details of the briefing she received from Foreign Office officials when she was in Israel,” Watson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning. “If true, it shows that there was knowledge that Priti Patel was running a sort of independent foreign policy earlier - and that she’s not been sacked for breaching the ministerial code in doing that, but she’s been sacked because it became public that she was doing that.”

Whatever the circumstances, Patel’s resignation, coupled with the widening Westminster sex scandal and paralysed Brexit talks, has many betting that the Conservative government will collapse by the year’s end.

With all eyes on Downing Street, the International Business Times asks the question on everyone’s mind: will Theresa May be a Christmas turkey?

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