The Home Secretary has issued a joint statement with her most senior official after she was plunged into a vicious briefing war with her own staff
Priti Patel has been forced to issue a joint statement with her top official after she was plunged into a furious briefing war with her own staff.
The Homer Secretary privately described her department as ‘not fit for purpose’ over the thousands of migrants crossing the Channel, according to the Mail on Sunday.
She is said to have considered drafting a letter to the Cabinet Secretary lambasting her civil servants’ progress on the issue. But it was reportedly never sent – and the civil servants then got wind of the letter and hit back.
One told the newspaper: “She comes into meetings and her suggestions are erratic and outlandish.
“Officials come out of the meetings and the texts start flying, describing her as a “moron” and an “idiot”.”
Another said: “What’s become clear is that she [the Home Secretary] is out for herself and only interested in how this plays out publicly.
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“If we worked collaboratively then we could get things done but instead we just have cloud cuckoo land public statements.”
And one said bluntly: “She hates us and we all hate her.”
It comes after a bullying probe found Ms Patel broke the Ministerial Code, only for Boris Johnson to over-rule it and say she did not.
The Home Office reached a settlement in March with Philip Rutnam, the former permanent secretary who resigned accusing Ms Patel of a “vicious and orchestrated briefing campaign”.
Last night Sir Philip’s replacement, Matthew Rycroft, issued a joint statement with Ms Patel attempting to quell the row.
It said: “The Home Office is responsible for delivering some of this Government’s biggest priorities – recruiting 20,000 police officers and cutting crime, keeping our country safe from terrorism, and implementing the New Plan for Immigration.
“We are both hugely grateful for the hard work of the thousands of public servants who work to do this every single day.
“While personal and anonymous attacks are regrettable and a very unfortunate part of public life, as joint leaders of the Home Office we will not let them distract from building a department able to rise to the challenges of today and tomorrow.”
It came as a Cabinet ally, Sajid Javid, insisted Covid had made it more difficult to send failed asylum seekers back to the countries from which they came.
Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said on Sunday that at the current rate, more migrants will be travelling to Britain via the English Channel that there are voters in the Home Secretary’s constituency if the Government doesn’t act.
And hundreds more people, including very young children, have made the dangerous Channel crossing to the UK over the weekend.
Adults carrying youngsters and others wrapped in blankets were seen arriving on the south-east coast of England on Saturday with help from lifeboat crews, before winter fully sets in.
And while official figures have not been confirmed it is believed hundreds of people made the journey.
More than 24,700 people have arrived in the UK so far this year after making the Channel crossing in small boats – almost three times the number there were in 2020.
Polling for the Sunday Telegraph suggested 55% of the public and 77% of voters who backed the Tories at the last election believe the Government’s approach to managing Channel crossings is “too soft”.
Mr Thomas-Symonds accused Home Secretary Priti Patel of “comprehensively failing” to deal with the problem.
He said: “Her incompetence on this issue is dangerous”.
Blasting her for attempting to blame civil servants he said: “With this Home Secretary it’s always somebody else’s fault rather than taking responsibility for her own decisions.”
The Home Office declined to add to the joint statement.