The UK politicians who ignore the Foreign Office to practise independent Middle East policy are usually prime ministers in a position to follow through
The controversy over Priti Patel’s private diplomacy, which led to her resignation, has highlighted public concern over a lack of transparency and the tendency of some politicians to play fast and loose with official procedures. Yet what has really upset many of Patel’s critics has been her policy of cosying up to Israel.
Within Israeli government circles, as well as among Israel’s friends in the UK, the Foreign Office has long been perceived as a source of hostility, while over the past 40 years or so, the occupants of No 10 have traditionally been viewed as friends of the Jewish state. The reality, of course, is rather more complex, but this might explain why Patel chose to keep the Foreign Office out of the loop in carrying out her private diplomacy with leading figures in Israel’s government. However, Patel would not be the first who has sought to circumvent, or, at the very least, resist, the Foreign Office in pursuing Middle East policy.
Tony Blair notoriously sidestepped the Foreign Office, ignoring its legal advice to join George Bush in invading Iraq