Whatever led Priti Patel to think she could conduct her own freelance diplomacy, and then mislead not only the press but the Prime Minister about what she’d been up to?
Was it arrogance? Stupidity? Or did she just think Theresa May is now so weak and ineffective there would be no consequences?
By any standard, her actions were astonishing. Priti Patel went to Israel on a private holiday, but conducted government business. Specifically, business that was nothing at all to do with her International Development department.
She met the Israeli prime minister, something Theresa May only discovered when Benjamin Netanyahu mentioned it to her. She broke British foreign policy by visiting the Golan Heights, whose occupation by Israel has never been formally recognised.
At no stage did she think any of this was worth mentioning in advance to the Foreign Office. Even when found out, she misled reporters about her actions and, it seems, Downing Street as well.
Even when she was called into Number Ten for a dressing down, she seemingly continued to withhold important information from the Prime Minister.
Priti Patel is either spectacularly arrogant, or so spectacularly lacking in judgement it’s astonishing she was ever touted as a possible future Tory leader.
Let’s be clear. This is no resignation. She was sacked, but given the dignity of a resignation letter. It was the only thing Theresa May could do.
All this exactly a week after Michael Fallon was forced out over his past conduct. At this rate, there won’t be too many ministers left in the Cabinet by the end of the year. Always assuming, of course, the Prime Minister manages to hang on that long.
The harassment scandal is clearly far from over. Her de facto deputy is under investigation, questions surround other key figures in the Conservative party, and the Prime Minister appears bereft, blown from one crisis to another by winds she is unable to control.
The only reason Theresa May is still in Downing Street is that no-one else wants the job. Who on earth would want to be in charge of this zombie government — deprived of its majority, stumbling through the biggest political challenge the country has faced in decades, and at the same time convulsed by seemingly endless allegations of misdeeds by senior figures.
Theresa May risks becoming the Frank Spencer of politics. A hapless loser unable to avoid misfortune, though lacking his empathetic qualities.
In getting rid of Priti Patel, she has finally taken a stand. It almost certainly won’t save her.