Diane Abbott calls on Priti Patel to resign amid bullying claims

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Priti Patel is facing new pressure from Labour to step down as Home Secretary over allegations that she bullied officials in her department.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott has today called for Ms Patel to stand down while the complaints against her are looked into.

She told the BBC’s Today Programme: “You can’t have a government that’s at war with its civil servants.

“We want a genuinely independent inquiry - a lawyer-led inquiry and something that can be seen to be independent.

“We are calling on her to step down whilst the inquiry goes on.”

Cabinet minister Michael Gove confirmed yesterday that action is being taken by the government to “establish the facts” over whether or not the Home Secretary breached ministerial code.

It came after the fallout over alleged bullying intensified at the weekend when top Home Office civil servant Sir Philip Rutnam resigned, claiming that Ms Patel had orchestrated a “vicious” campaign against him”.

However, many Conservatives have jumped to Ms Patel’s defence, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock describing her as a “determined” Home Secretary and “very keen” to deliver the Conservative agenda.

He told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer: “I’ve worked with Priti for a long time and I’ve never seen anything other than a courteous and kind approach.”

Conservative MP Colonel Bob Stewart said it was “amazing” that a permanent secretary would make the announcement publicly.

He told Julia: “Normally the civil service deal with this matter, they don't make it public and certainly permanent secretaries don’t resign over the matter… normally if there’s a disagreement they’re shifted sideways or resign with a pretty good package.”

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