Andrew Bridgen: ‘Priti Patel has got the support of the country’

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen has joined others in defending Priti Patel as the Home Secretary faces investigation over bullying allegations.

Speaking to talkRADIO, Mr Bridgen said his colleague was a “determined, ambitious, strong-willed politician”.

“Ultimately Priti Patel is holding down one of the great offices of state, it's not a job for a wilting violet,” he told Julia Hartley-Brewer.

It comes as the head of the civil service said ministers were expected to behave “professionally and courteously” in dealings with officials.

Giving evidence to the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill said the breakdown in relations between Ms Patel and her top official, Sir Philip Rutnam, were “very regrettable”.

Sir Philip dramatically resigned as permanent secretary in the Home Office last month, accusing Ms Patel of a orchestrating a “vicious” campaign against him.

Ms Patel - who is now facing a Cabinet Office investigation - faced similar allegations while she was a minister in the Department for International Development and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Ms Patel denies all allegations against her, but has faced calls from opposition MPs to stand down while an investigation is carried out.

But Mr Bridgen said that politicians should not be forced out by fallouts with staff, saying civil servants cannot “choose who they want the people to elect in high office”.

He said: “It’s elected politicians that run this country.

“The civil service are there to serve the government of the day and if there’s a clash over personalities or the way that the job’s being performed, it’s the civil servants who have to move, it’s not the elected politicians.”

He claimed that Ms Patel “has got the support of the country” as well as “the overwhelming support” of the Conservative Party.

Read more

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