Cumbrian MP Rory Stewart is being mooted as a potential Cabinet contender following tonight's resignation of Priti Patel.

Ms Patel has quit her role as International Development Secretary and acknowledged that her "actions fell below the standards of transparency and openness" she had advocated.

Her decision to resign as International Development Secretary came after being summoned back from an official visit to Africa for a showdown with Theresa May in Downing Street.

Ms Patel had been intending to spend three days in Kenya and Uganda, but was forced to cut short her trip and return home from Nairobi to explain the disclosure of further unauthorised meetings with Israeli politicians.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Ms Patel said: "I offer a fulsome apology to you and to the Government for what has happened and offer my resignation."

Ms Patel's downfall came after it emerged she had a series of 12 meetings with senior Israeli figures during a holiday in the country in August.

She then held two additional meetings, one in the UK and one in the US, following her return from Israel.

In a further development, the Israeli Haaretz newspaper reported that during her stay in the country she visited an Israeli military field hospital in the occupied Golan Heights.

In her reply to Ms Patel, the Prime Minister said: "As you know, the UK and Israel are close allies, and it is right that we should work closely together.

"But that must be done formally, and through official channels.

"That is why, when we met on Monday, I was glad to accept your apology and welcomed your clarification about the trip to Israel over the summer.

"Now that further details have come to light, it is right that you have decided to resign and adhere to the high standards of transparency and openness that you have advocated."

Her resignation leaves Theresa May facing a tricky second reshuffle in successive weeks.

The Prime Minister faced a backlash after replacing Sir Michael Fallon as Defence Secretary with Gavin Williamson and will hope that her latest enforced change is met with a more positive response from the Tory ranks.

Penrith and the Border MP Rory Stewart is among six potential contenders being suggested tonight.

A former soldier, diplomat and writer, the Penrith and the Border MP's life has been so colourful that Brad Pitt's production company reportedly bought the rights for a biopic.

Mr Stewart is currently a joint International Development and Foreign Office minister.

He had a short stint as an officer in the Black Watch before a diplomatic career which saw him become deputy governor of two provinces in Iraq following the 2003 invasion. He backed Remain in the EU referendum.

Other names include Sir Alan Duncan, currently Boris Johnson's deputy in the Foreign Office and a previous International Development minister; Work and Pensions minister Penny Mordaunt; Guildford MP Anne Milton; veteran Alistair Burt who holds a similar International Development-Foreign Office role to Mr Stewart; and Theresa Villiers, who resigned from government when Mrs May took office and replaced her as Northern Ireland secretary.