Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson has backed his Home Secretary Priti Patel on March 1 and called her “fantastic” amid a row over the resignation of her top civil servant. As controversy surrounds the cabinet office with allegations of bullying against the Indian-origin minister by Sir Philip Rutnam, her former permanent secretary, Johnson was asked to speak about the issue during his address regarding growing spread of the deadly coronavirus in Britain.
When the British PM was reportedly asked if he had confidence in Patel, he replied in assurance and said, “absolutely”. He further added that “she is a fantastic home secretary. Anybody who has been home secretary will testify it is one of the toughest jobs in the government”. According to international reports, what is being deemed as a clash between the civil servants and the civil service, Johnson also expressed his “admiration” for the British civil servants who he described as “brilliant alpha minds”.
Johnson's intervention came after the explosive resignation of Rutnam from the UK Home Office over the weekend. The British home secretary is yet to comment herself on the entire issue, one of her cabinet members, health secretary Matt Hancock spoke out in Patel's defence. According to reports, he called Patel as “very determined person” and “very courteous”. Meanwhile, the opposition Labour Party has demanded that Patel's address in the Parliament on the allegations of bullying against her.
As per reports, Downing Street had previously backed Priti Patel saying the Prime Minister has 'full confidence' in the Home Secretary and intelligence is not being withheld from her. Earlier this week, Priti Patel reportedly even demanded a leak inquiry following the allegations that appeared in various media reports. Patel ordered that a formal leak inquiry to be carried out by Helen MacNamara, who is the director-general of propriety and ethics at the Cabinet Office. However, further reports suggest that MacNamara has blocked the request made by the Home Secretary.
Priti Patel was appointed the Home Secretary by Johnson following a cabinet reshuffle that took place on February 13. Along with Patel, other members of Parliament who were brought to the front benches by the Prime Minister are Rishi Sunak, who replaced Sajid Javed as the new Finance Minister, Oliver Dowden, Brandon Lewis, and Alok Sharma.