The sacking (“resignation”) of the Secretary of State for International Development, Priti Patel, was a major mistake by the Prime Minister. The impacts of sacking Patel will be disastrous, not only for the government, but also for the international community that relies on her in her position. Hopefully, Ms. Patel’s political exile will be short-lived; her country needs her.
Ms. Patel laid down the groundwork for a future run at the Conservative leadership in her speech in the Conservative Party Conference this fall. Her speech was one of the star moments of the conference, words that would rebuild the conservative image and bring back faith in the party’s attitude towards Brexit; something that only herself and Boris Johnson truly attempted. Patel is a strong figure of the right by principle, an alumna of Keele and Essex Universities, a daughter of Ugandan parents who moved to Britain to pursue their British dream and now identified as someone who represents the parties ‘New Right’. Her previous membership of the Referendum Party, before switching back to Conservatives in 1997, shows her firm commitment to leaving the European Union as a lifelong ambition; which is quite a contrast to some of her colleagues contemptible, freshly adopted and bogus stances.
When Ms. Patel first took over DFID, she took control of a department stained by corruption. In little over a year, she projected a defining new image for international development that invests its budget in more thought out and capitalist ventures that are moving on to getting the right balance of supporting the poorest in society, but also encouraging trade and entrepreneurship. Where money wasn’t being spent properly, she corrected it.
As shown by her recent meetings with Israeli leaders, although receiving controversy, she is not afraid to push Britain’s programme in the wider world. The meetings she had were not wrong nor improper, she simply did not declare them, and it would be unfair to tarnish her prodigious reputation for such an unimportant mistake. Rather, we should be praising her for her pragmatism and proactivity in such a delicate climate and under the rule of such a delicate leader.
The removal of this pro-Brexit minister from the cabinet will only mean the May ministry will anger Brexiteer backbench Conservative MPs who she needs for her government to function. However, her removal has bigger possible consequences. The unstable governments that rely on UK international investment may soon become further out of balance, viewing the Prime Minister in an even more unfavourable image to the global community than what is it now.
I believe Priti Patel will almost certainly get a second chance soon, probably after the installation of a new leader, allowing her to re-build her path to the premiership swiftly.
The next step for the charismatic cabinet minister is to take on the role of chancellor under a Brexiteer premiership, being either David Davis or Boris Johnson. She has the economic know-how and will perform the same pragmatic clean-up operation on the Treasury as she did in the International Development Department. This is a role that would take full advantage in her family background. She could use her story of the British Dream to design an economic plan that would inspire people into work and would portray the advantages of capitalism and libertarianism.
If Patel was to become chancellor, and was to further carry out this form as a later Prime Minister, the country would be a much more economically stable nation. Especially after Brexit, the welfare state would shrink, and society would move onto a focus of thriving, not just surviving. These are part of the values that Patel holds through being a staunch Thatcherite. Her commitment to the style of governing and politics birthed by Thatcher is something that would benefit our nation, not just regarding the economy and trade, but also from a societal perspective.
Being a prominent figure in ‘New Right’ Ms. Patel is someone who would respect individual liberty and not tolerate the this ‘snowflake’ age, factors that a Conservative Premier should have in mind whilst leading the nation. Along with this, British society sees the Conservatives as ‘uncool’ and, with most politicians being twenty or more years older than the average age of a person in the United Kingdom, Patel could help bridge the gap with younger voters. I have every confidence that Patel, along with other figures such as James Cleverly, is a key member who could revive the party to a point where it is more ‘in touch’ with young people.
At this current point in the slow evolution of British society, with the United Kingdom trying to find itself in a new world, Priti Patel is the person who can represent the nation successfully and properly on the international stage. But within the country, she is someone who can bring as much change as Thatcher, compelling the nation to grow up and take responsibility for itself. Patel is exactly what we need.