Priti Patel faces a severe test of her political skills if she is going to survive in the long term

The home secretary unveiled a post-Brexit immigration policy that is a bit more relaxed than previously advertised, yet sounded tough, writes John Rentoul

John Rentoul
Tuesday 14 July 2020 14:25
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Priti Patel is popular with Conservative members, but has work to do to convince the public
Priti Patel is popular with Conservative members, but has work to do to convince the public

Priti Patel looked positively cheerful in the House of Commons yesterday, bantering across the despatch box with Conor McGinn, a shadow home office minister. “No I have not sacked them all,” she said when he accused her of having to recruit police officers to replace the ones her government had got rid of.

She has shown remarkable survival skills. She came back from being sacked by Theresa May for running the Department for International Development as a rival foreign office – no more of that nonsense under Boris Johnson: the foreign office is swallowing DfID whole.

Her tenure as home secretary was hanging in the balance at the start of the year, after Sir Philip Rutnam, her top civil servant, resigned to sue the government for constructive dismissal, accusing her of bullying. But she is still there, and the rumour is that the argument inside Whitehall is only about whether the inquiry into her alleged breach of the ministerial code will give her a mild telling-off or a complete exoneration.

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