May’s cabinet on the edge after foreign policy blunders

May’s cabinet on the edge after foreign policy blunders


Theresa May could be preparing to lose a second cabinet minister in a week, and may even be set for the loss of a third. After the resignation of Michael Fallon, there is mounting pressure for Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and International Development Secretary Priti Patel to follow in his footsteps.

Both ministers are being accused of misconduct following separate foreign affairs incidents.

Johnson is being called on to rectify an inaccurate statement he made about a British-Iranian woman currently serving a five-year jail term after being arrested while on holiday in Iran.

Speaking at a hearing of the foreign affairs select committee, Johnson said Nazanin Zaghari-Ratclifee was “simply teaching people journalism” while he was condemning her sentence. Her family and employer, Thomson Reuters Foundation, have since highlighted that the claim is false and could extend her sentence.


Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was convicted last year of spying in Iran, was summoned before an unscheduled court hearing where Johnson’s words were cited as evidence that she was engaged in “propaganda against the regime”. The hearing took place on Saturday, three days after Johnson misspoke.

Johnson refuses to apologise for the comment that Trade Secretary Liam Fox called a “slip of the tongue”. Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry is just one of many voices calling for Johnson’s resignation.

Priti Patel, the International Development Secretary, is also under fire after holding a series of meetings with Israeli officials whilst ‘on holiday’ in August, without informing Number 10.

This included a meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, regarding British overseas aid money to the Israeli army.

Patel previously asserted in an interview with the Guardian that the Foreign Office knew about the trip, then later clarified they were in fact unaware, and has been accused of misleading the public.

She has also been accused by fellow MPs of gross misconduct, and Labour has demanded a full investigation.

Both MPs were appointed to their roles largely because of their stance on Brexit.

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