A British journalist who flew all the way to East Africa to interview Priti Patel has been stood up by the embattled cabinet minister, after Patel was forced into an embarrassing return flight back to the UK.
Economics correspondent Anna Isaac told BuzzFeed News her bosses at the Daily Telegraph had paid for her to tag along with international development secretary Patel and trade secretary Liam Fox for the business and trade trip to Africa.
But on Wednesday morning, hours after landing in Nairobi, Patel was recalled back to London as more questions emerged about her secret meetings with Israeli foreign officials during a recent "holiday".
"Patel just didn't show up on the plane to Entebbe this morning," Isaac told BuzzFeed News from Uganda. "I asked her team whether she was going to be on the flight or not and they were like, 'We think she may still come, we're not sure.'"
"Loads of us were sitting up in our seats to see if she was going to sneak on to our plane in the last minute, but no sign unfortunately."
Isaac said she was scared to call her bosses at the Telegraph and let them know her key interviewee had left the country.
"The paper made a big effort to send me out here, I was like to my editor, 'I'm really sorry, I know you spent a lot of money sending me out for a very important interview.'
"The Telegraph did pay for me to come over because they're really keen on their international economics coverage, so it was quite scary having to tell my boss."
Theresa May recalled Patel after more revelations about undeclared meetings during Patel's "holiday" in Israel leaked out on Wednesday.
Israel's Haaretz reported Patel had not only met prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu without telling the Foreign Office, but also visited the Golan Heights — a breach of British diplomatic protocol.
The Sun also reported Patel had met with Israeli officials on two other occasions without informing the prime minister, further fuelling speculation Patel was coming back to the UK to be sacked.
But the Jewish Chronicle then reported Patel was encouraged not to later declare her meeting with Israeli foreign Yuval Rotem "as it would embarrass the Foreign and Commonwealth Office".
Despite all this, Isaac remains in Uganda and intends to make the most out of the trip to the region, including an interview with Liam Fox.
"I was very keen to cover how global development issues can be tackled in such a way that people can find a sustainable route out of poverty, stuff like that," she said.
"Hopefully Liam won't run away from me as well."
Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Mark Di Stefano at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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