In her first broadcast interview since she was sacked as international development secretary in November, Priti Patel apologised for causing the Prime Minister difficulty by meeting members of the Israeli government without her knowledge.

The former Cabinet minister insisted there was “no malice” in the secret meetings and said it would have been “remiss” of her not to speak to them while on holiday in the country.

Asked about the meetings which led to her departure from office, Priti Patel said: “I apologise for what happened. My actions caused difficulty for the Government.

“I take the view that, as a politician, we all know other politicians around the world. Whether you are abroad on business or even on holiday, I think it’s remiss if you don’t actually go and meet people who you know.

“That’s what I did, there was no malice intended.”

Ms Patel said that “with hindsight” she now understood that she should have informed Theresa May about the meetings.

Speaking to ITV1’s Good Morning Britain, Ms Patel gave her backing to Mrs May, saying she remained on “cordial” terms with the Prime Minister and was “absolutely not” envisaging her being forced out of office.