Boris Johnson says he has 'absolute confidence' in under-fire Priti Patel
Boris Johnson has said he has confidence in his Home Secretary Priti Patel, despite calls for her to be investigated following the resignation of a senior Home Office civil servant.
The Prime Minister declared her “a fantastic Home Secretary” and said she was “delivering” on the introduction of a new post-Brexit immigration system.
Ms Patel has come under-fire after the public resignation of Sir Philip Rutnam on Saturday, who accused her of orchestrating a “vicious” campaign against him, of lying about her involvement in it and of creating a climate of fear among her officials.
"It is never an easy job, as anyone who has been Home Secretary will testify. It is one of the toughest jobs in Government.
“There is a big, big task ahead of us now. We are delivering, at last, a new immigration system for this country, a points-based immigration system. That will take a lot of work by the Home Office, a fantastic department.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock also defended his Cabinet colleague today saying Ms Patel could be “firm” but was “extremely courteous” in her dealings with colleagues.
Mr Hancock told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme: “Priti is a very determined Home Secretary. She is probably closer to where the public are on the issues of law and order than any home secretary in recent history. I think she drives things forward.
"I also think she is extremely courteous, and in every dealing I’ve had with her she has been very courteous. I can’t get into the details of the case, not least because it looks like it might be going to court, and I’m not close to it.”
Labour has looked to ramp up the pressure on the under-fire Home Secretary, with shadow chancellor John McDonnell suggesting she could be forced to resign. Mr McDonnell, when asked if Ms Patel could stay in her post, said “I can’t see it, it’s bizarre.”
He added: “One of the ways the Prime Minister could go forward is to have an independent investigation but during that period you’d have to suspend the Home Secretary whilst that went on.”
Labour leadership candidate Sir Keir Starmer also called on Ms Patel to explain to MPs the explosive allegations levelled against her by Sir Philip. Sir Keir said: “The Home Secretary has a duty to come to Parliament on Monday to explain the allegations made about her own conduct.”
The shadow Brexit secretary called for Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill to start “an immediate investigation” into the circumstances surrounding Sir Philip’s departure.
In his statement Sir Philip said the campaign against him included “false” claims that he had briefed the media against the Home Secretary. He said: “The Home Secretary categorically denied any involvement in this campaign to the Cabinet Office. I regret I do not believe her.
“She has not made the effort I would expect to dissociate herself from the comments. I believe these events give me very strong grounds to claim constructive, unfair dismissal and I will be pursuing that claim in the courts.”