Priti Patel

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Person.png Priti Patel   Powerbase Sourcewatch TwitterRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Regev Patel.jpg
London, England
Alma materKeele University, University of Essex
SpouseAlex Sawyer
PartyConservative,  (before 1995,  since 1997),  Referendum,  (1995–1997)

Employment.png UK/Home Secretary

In office
24 July 2019 - Present
Preceded bySajid Javid

Employment.png UK/Minister of State for Employment

In office
11 May 2015 - 14 July 2016

Employment.png UK/Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
15 July 2014 - 11 May 2015
Preceded byDavid Gauke
Succeeded byDamian Hinds

Employment.png Member of Parliament for Witham

In office
6 May 2010 - Present

Priti Patel (born 29 March 1972) is a British Conservative Party politician who has been Home Secretary since 24 July 2019 and the Member of Parliament (MP) for Witham in Essex since 2010. She was Secretary of State for International Development from July 2016 to November 2017; her tenure as a cabinet minister ended due to revelations of secret meetings with the Israeli government.[1]


Priti Patel was born in London to a Ugandan Indian migrant family. Educated at Keele University and the University of Essex, she was a member of the Conservative Party in her youth, became involved with the Referendum Party and then switched her allegiance back to the Conservatives. She worked for the public relations consultancy firm Weber Shandwick for several years, as part of which she lobbied for the tobacco and alcohol industries. Intending to switch to a political career, she unsuccessfully contested the Nottingham North seat at the 2005 General Election.

Political career

After David Cameron became Conservative leader, he recommended Patel for the party's "A-List" of prospective parliamentary candidates. She was first elected MP for Witham, a Conservative safe seat, at the 2010 General Election, and was re-elected in 2015 and 2017. Under Cameron's government, Patel was appointed Minister of State for Employment. A longstanding Eurosceptic, Patel was a leading figure in the Vote Leave campaign during the build-up to the 2016 EU Referendum. Following Cameron's resignation, Patel backed Theresa May as Conservative leader; May subsequently appointed Patel as International Development Secretary. On 8 November 2017 Patel resigned after it was revealed that she had been involved in unauthorised meetings with the Israeli government.[2]

Cutting Palestinian aid

In October 2016, Priti Patel, ordered a review of the funding procedure and froze about a third of Britain’s aid to the Palestinians while the review, undertaken in close collaboration with the Foreign Office, was carried out. In December 2016, the Department for International Development (DIFD) announced that although Britain would continue to fund the Palestinian Authority, there would be certain crucial changes. In future, DIFD said, its aid would go “solely to vital health and education services, in order to meet the immediate needs of the Palestinian people and maximise value for money."

Simon Johnson, Chief Executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, said:

“We welcome this sensible move by the Department for International Development to concentrate aid where it is most needed. It must be robust in ensuring funds are used to help those in need, such as for health and education, and kept away from those who seek to use the money to cause harm.”

Conservative Friends of Israel Honorary President Lord Polak also welcomed DfID’s announcement, saying:

“After years of campaigning against the Palestinian Authority’s abuse of international aid to fund the salaries of prisoners convicted of terror, today’s announcement is welcome news from DfID. With the redirection of aid to education and health, the ability of the Palestinian Authority to abuse this funding to reward terror is significantly reduced and the money will now go to those most in need. It is clear that the Secretary of State for International Development, Priti Patel, is taking concerns seriously, and it is now essential that DfID rigorously scrutinises the PA to ensure it is no longer misusing British taxpayers’ money. We also call on DfID to continue looking into allocating aid to vital coexistence projects which lay the groundwork for peace.”

Paul Charney, chairman of the Zionist Federation, welcomed the change in approach. He said:

“The scandal of salaries for terrorists has been an issue that the Zionist Federation has campaigned on for a long time. Over the years, thousands of emails were sent to politicians – all of which were rebuffed by an apparently impenetrable shield of denial. Today’s dramatic shift in funding priorities means that finally DFID is acknowledging that there is a fundamental problem with the Palestinian Authority’s lack of accountability and support for violence. It remains to be seen if UK taxpayer money will make its way to the intended targets – doctors and teachers. But this is an important change in the UK’s attitude towards Palestinian aid, and we hope it will contribute to a change in the PA’s attitude as well.”[3]

Death penalty

Upon Priti Patel's appointment as Home Secretary in Boris Johnson's cabinet, the media reminded us that in a September 2011 episode of BBC Question Time she had called for the return of capital punishment as a “deterrent”:[4]

“I do think that when we have a criminal justice system that continuously fails in the country and where we have seen murderers and rapists … reoffend and do those crimes again and again I think that’s appalling.
"On that basis alone I would support the reintroduction of capital punishment to serve as a deterrent.”[5]

Fellow guest and Private Eye editor Ian Hislop took apart her argument, saying the inaccuracy of sentencing in the UK would mean innocent people would be killed by the state:

“It’s not a deterrent if you kill the wrong people.”[6]

In 2016 she said she had changed her mind and no longer believed capital punishment should return to Britain.[7]

Family holiday in Israel

In August 2017, whilst a government minister, Priti Patel took what she described as a family holiday in Israel.[8] It later transpired that her holiday had been organised by Conservative Friends of Israel honorary president Lord Polak who personally arranged 12 meetings for her, including one with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, as well as a trip to the Israeli occupied Golan Heights.[9]


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