DOWNING Street demanded Priti Patel come clean about any more secret meetings with foreign politicians, as her Cabinet career hung by a thread.
The worldwide development secretary, Priti Patel, held undisclosed meetings in Israel without telling the Foreign Office while accompanied by an influential pro-Israeli Conservative lobbyist, it has been reported.
Priti Patel is facing fresh calls to resign after failing to turn up to answer questions from MPs about her secret Israel meetings.
Patel also clarified previous remarks to the Guardian newspaper on Friday in which she had appeared to suggest that British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson knew of her schedule beforehand. "The Foreign Secretary did become aware of the visit, but not in advance of it".
Ms Patel, MP for Witham in Essex, said she was proud of the role which Britain had played in "helping to make a homeland for the Jewish people" and said that the Balfour centenary should be celebrated with pride. While away I had the opportunity to meet a number of people and organisations.
Patel's meetings in Israel between August 13 and 25 were arranged by the honorary president of the lobbying group Conservative Friends of Israel, Lord Polak, who also attended all but one. The Foreign Office, it said, was "clear that United Kingdom interests were not damaged or affected by the meetings on this visit".
"In hindsight, I can see how my enthusiasm to engage in this way could be misread, and how meetings were set up and reported in a way which did not accord with the usual procedures", she said. "I regret it and apologize for it".
On Monday, Ms Patel issued a statement to say her Tel Aviv meetings were to discuss "prospects for closer collaboration between Israel and the United Kingdom on development and humanitarian issues".
Downing Street officials are already furious with Ms Patel, who has also admitted misleading journalists about the Israel trip. The Telegraph also reported that Patel had suggested to Netanyahu that the United Kingdom should give aid to the Israeli army.
Patel apologized for failing to comply with the usual procedures that oblige ministers to inform the British Foreign Office before doing official business overseas and said she regretted her statement that Foreign Minister Boris Johnson was aware of the visit in advance. May yesterday summoned Patel to No 10 to "remind her of the obligations which exist under the ministerial code".
"The Prime Minister welcomes the Secretary of State's clarification about her trip to Israel and has accepted her apology for her handling of the matter", the spokesman said.