Senior Tory Crispin Blunt has said Priti Patel’s career was “accelerated” because she was an “Asian representative in the Conservative party”.
It came as the International Development Secretary was ordered to fly home from a state trip to Africa as speculation mounted the Prime Minister was preparing to sack her for holding secret meetings with Israeli officials.
Speaking on Sky News, Blunt claimed Patel, 45, lacked “a grounding in ministerial experience”, and also seemed to suggest the Asian minister had clinched the Cabinet position because of her race.
He said: “She’s a great British Asian representative in the Conservative party and has been accelerated through to very senior positions because we need good advocates of the whole community representing our party but with the lack of grounding in ministerial experience that then comes with that, sometimes these mistakes can be made.
“So, I would have been inclined to accept her apology but there may be more developments which means it’s gone beyond what the Prime Minister sees as acceptable.
When asked if she was not suitable for the job, the former chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee replied: “I’m not saying [she was not up to the job] but it’s very important that the Tory party, like all institutions, to bring on people who are going to be good advocates for the party and for the community and to that extent, Priti Patel is a huge asset to the Tory party, to have a British Asian woman in a senior position in the Conservative party is a great asset for us.
“Even if she pays the penalty here because of her lack of experience and the decisions she took on that experience, she’ll still be around and she’ll recover in the medium term because she’s got all the enthusiasm and talent that got her to where she is today.”