Boris Johnson 'found wanting' after failing to sack Priti Patel

Ellen Manning
·3-min read

Watch: Thomas-Symonds slams handling of Priti Patel bullying claims

Boris Johnson has been criticised over his decision not to sack Priti Patel over allegations that she bullied home office staff.

The prime minister judged that the ministerial code was not breached by the home secretary amid multiple allegations of bullying.

This came despite a report by his adviser on ministerial standards Sir Alex Allan saying that Patel had “not consistently met the high standards expected of her”.

Sir Alex resigned after news of the PM’s decision broke.

He said: “I recognise that it is for the prime minister to make a judgment on whether actions by a minister amount to a breach of the ministerial code.

“But I feel that it is right that I should now resign from my position as the prime minister’s independent adviser on the code.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel during a visit to North Yorkshire Police headquarters, Northallerton.
Boris Johnson failed to sack Priti Patel after a report found she had bullied staff.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “Yet again, the Prime Minister has been found wanting when his leadership has been tested. If I were prime minister, the home secretary would have been removed from her job.

“It is hard to imagine another workplace in the UK where this behaviour would be condoned by those at the top.

“The government should be setting an example. Instead, it is one rule for Boris Johnson and his friends, another for everyone else.”

Labour MP David Lammy tweeted: “Boris Johnson condoning bullying by keeping Priti Patel in post despite his advisor’s resignation is another spineless, hypocritical and pathetic failure of leadership.

“Once again it’s one rule for the Conservatives and another for everyone else.”

Patel apologised for upset caused by her behaviour, saying in a statement: “I am sorry that my behaviour in the past has upset people. It has never been my intention to cause upset to anyone.”

It has been suggested that the publication of the report was held up by Johnson.

Labour hit out at the PM over the delay in releasing the report, with shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds saying it has “all the hallmarks of a prime ministerial cover-up”.

Video grab of Home Secretary Priti Patel who has escalated the UK terror threat level from 'substantial' to 'severe' following an attack in Vienna that left at least three dead. (Photo by PA Video/PA Images via Getty Images)
According to reports, Priti Patel will not be sacked over allegations of bullying. (Getty)

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think we need to see the full report, it needs to be published in full, line by line and the home secretary and the prime minister need to come to Parliament to answer questions because the revelation in recent days have been extraordinarily serious.

“I’m afraid this really does have all the hallmarks of a prime ministerial cover-up and raises questions about his judgment.

“If what has been reported is correct, then it is tantamount to the prime minister condoning bullying.”

Read more: Priti Patel’s torrid time in the spotlight

Thomas-Symonds said the nine-month delay in finalising the investigation had meant he had “lost confidence in this process” and said the matter should be referred to the Committee on Standards in Public Life for a “full investigation to take place and establish the facts”.

The inquiry into the home secretary was launched nine months ago following the departure of senior home office civil servant Sir Philip Rutnam.

Watch: Home Office boss Sir Philip Rutnam quits, claiming he will sue government

But fellow Tories have rallied around Patel, voicing their support for the Home Secretary.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he felt “very proud” to serve in a Cabinet with her, telling BBC Breakfast: “I think she’s doing an excellent job and is an excellent Home Secretary and really delivering on things that matter to people.

“In all the dealings I’ve ever had with her she’s been nothing but courteous.”

Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg said Patel was a “formidable Home Secretary” and an “asset to Government”, while senior Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, said Patel was “hard working, determined and has been very kind to many”.

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