Well, now it’s all over bar the shouting....or is it ? It was going to be pretty unlikely that Priti Patel was going to survive the series of poor judgements she made in meeting somewhat secretly with Israeli ministers. First, it was a poor choice of nation with whom to have such a dialogue, and second, it was exceedingly poor judgement on her part to imagine that she could actually get away with it. What strikes me at this point is that her meetings took place in August and September and were revealed around the time of the said meetings to the Foreign Office. It is now almost half way through November. What has the government being doing this last 6 weeks or so before having the unfortunate Ms Patel dragged back from an African visit with high publicity just today ? If Ms Patel’s Israeli adventures had not been leaked to the press, would it have been the government’s intention to let the episode slide by unreported, I wonder ? Being the Bristling Brock that I am, it would not surprise me in the least that sweeping this under the Foreign Office carpet was the official intention - otherwise why wait six weeks before taking this ham-fisted action ?
Ms Patel was clearly in the wrong and her enthusiasm for Israel is something that wobbles my boat, but that said, I quite like her, her manner, style and preparedness to speak her mind. She is perhaps a little inexperienced in a ministerial role but she is one of the brighter sparks in Westminster amidst a galaxy of dullards. The interesting possibility now, of course is that as a back-bencher she can act in ways that she was restricted in before not least on the topic of Brexit (she is one of the more interesting and charismatic Euro-sceptics and much in favour of Brexit). I’m sure we’ll see more of Ms Patel in the not distant future and Bristling Brock wishes her well.
On the flip side of this issue we see the government, and the PM in particular, sinking even further into the mud. Party discipline, cohesion and any sense of purpose seem to have left them in this completely futile position and their ability to function in a professional and orderly way perhaps never did actually grace their cabinet table. As a government they have a mountain to climb - partly as a result of endless scandal and mainly because they haven’t the organisational or intellectual wherewithal to rectify a continuously deteriorating situation. Seldom have we seen a British government floundering in this way and it is deeply saddening to see the damage this is inflicting upon our nation. Yesterday I speculated that under normal political circumstances the parliament would have already been dissolved and a general election called but doubted this would happen mid-stream with the Brexit negotiations. However, I may have to retract - it is very difficult now to envisage a scenario where the government has a mandate of confidence to pursue any policy. We have entered a new phase. Quite what will happen is unclear but at the very least I cannot imagine the EU looking upon this pantomime with anything other than a sense of triumph and glee.