UK Politics

Profile: Priti Patel

Priti Patel Image copyright PA

Long seen as a rising star in the Conservative Party, Priti Patel has now resigned from the cabinet minister after it emerged she had held undisclosed meetings with Israeli officials while on holiday.

Elected as an MP in 2010 the prominent Brexiteer, 45, became a Treasury minister in 2014, before becoming Employment Minister after the 2015 general election.

And shortly after Theresa May became Prime Minister - following the June 2016 EU referendum - Ms Patel was promoted to Secretary of State for International Development.

Born in London to Gujarati parents who fled Uganda in the 1960s, she was educated at Watford Grammar School for Girls.

She went on to study at Keele and Essex universities before getting a job at Conservative Central Office, which she left to head up the press office for the Referendum Party, under Sir James Goldsmith, from 1995 to 1997.

After William Hague became Conservative leader, she returned to the party to be his deputy press secretary, from 1997 to 2000.

She went on to spend a number of years working with the Weber Shandwick public affairs consultancy - advising Ikea and the Meat & Livestock Commission among others - and had a spell as international public policy adviser for drinks giant Diageo.

Ms Patel sought to get elected to Parliament in 2005 but lost out in Nottingham North. A year later, she was one of those selected for new leader David Cameron's A-list of candidates and went on to become MP for Witham, Essex, in 2010.


  • Born: 29 March, 1972, in London
  • Education: Watford Grammar School; economics degree from Keele University, postgraduate study in British government and politics at University of Essex
  • Family: Born to Gujarati parents who fled Uganda in the 1960s. Married with a seven-year-old son
  • Career: Elected Witham MP in 2010. Became Treasury minister in 2014 and Minister for Employment in 2015. Appointed Secretary of State for International Development in July 2016

She is positioned on the right of the party, voted against gay marriage, campaigned against the smoking ban, and previously advocated bringing back the death penalty, before later saying she did not support it.

Ms Patel, whose father stood as a UKIP councillor in 2013, cites Margaret Thatcher as her political hero.

A longstanding Eurosceptic, dating back to at least her Referendum Party days, Ms Patel was a leading figure in the successful Vote Leave campaign.

There was also controversy when it emerged she once called for the foreign aid department to be scrapped in its current form.

She told the Daily Telegraph in 2013: "A long-term strategic assessment is required, including the consideration to replace DfID [the Department for International Development] with a Department for International Trade and Development in order to enable the UK to focus on enhancing trade with the developing world and seek out new investment opportunities in the global race."

She later said she did want DfID to continue in its current form and backed Britain's legal commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on aid, although she insisted that it should provide better value for money.

Related Topics

More on this story