The moon landing. The JFK assassination. Lilith the lynx escaping from Borth Wild Animal Kingdom. Everyone says they knows where they were during these seismic moments in human history.

While the resignation of Conservative minister Priti Patel probably won’t live as long in the memory, those who do remember it will know precisely where they were. They were on Twitter.

So how did we get to the stage where a politician’s downfall was so absorbing it probably dented Britain’s GDP?

Let’s recap … 

Patel, the UK’s international development secretary, got into hot water after she admitted to holding meetings in Israel while on holiday in August, including with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

However, the Foreign Office was only made aware of the ‘secret’ meetings on August 24 – after they took place.

The problem here is that Patel could have been seen as freelancing and making government policy on the hoof.

By Tuesday night, amid increasingly loud calls for her to resign, things got appreciably worse.


Except removing Patel from her ministerial berth for breaking the ministerial code was problematic for Theresa May, chiefly because they were more than 4,000 miles apart.

Patel was on an official trip to Uganda, and firing a colleague while in another continent when you don’t have a parliamentary majority is probably not good form.

Why she was in Uganda in the first place is itself intriguing.

Undeterred by geography, May ordered Patel to abandon her visit, and it was briefed a nine-hour flight from Nairobi in Kenya to Heathrow had been hastily arranged.

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