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Priti Patel is under increasing pressure over what critics say is her inability to manage the Channel crossings, with a Whitehall source telling PoliticsHome that the Home Office is “completely incompetent” and its leadership “obsolete”.
In a new criticism of the Home Secretary, a Whitehall source said the Home Office was viewed by other government officials as “completely incompetent”.
“It is not even an open secret that the management of the Interior Ministry is obsolete and far too dependent on other departments for what would once have been only policy areas of the Interior Ministry,” they said. told PoliticsHome.
“Under their watch, so many failures.”
They added that Boris Johnson’s personal support for Patel was the reason she was still in her senior Cabinet post despite being “ineffective and unpopular”.
Home Secretary Patel will make a statement to MPs Thursday afternoon after at least 27 people died as they tried to reach the UK from France on Wednesday. They included five women and a young girl.
The tragic incident, which the Prime Minister called “appalling”, left the government wondering how it failed to prevent it and how it finally plans to address the issue of those on the deadly trip. 20 miles through the Channel.
Patel’s allies have defended his role amid mounting criticism.
One of them sought to play down hostile briefings, telling PoliticsHome: “We are working in a very difficult environment and we are dealing with some of the biggest issues of the day, and of course there will be differing opinions.
“But one person’s anonymous briefing is not representative of the entire Home Office.”
Patel, who promised in 2019 to resolve the Channel crossings issue by summer 2020, has faced particularly harsh criticism, including from officials in his own department.
A senior Interior Ministry official told the Mail on Sunday that she was “on her own and only cared about how it is going”, and described her ideas for managing the Channel crossings as “erratic and outlandish”.
They added: “Any reasonable, mature politician would know they’ll never work, but she’s coming out anyway. Officials come out of meetings and texts start flying, describing her as a ‘jerk’ and ‘dumb’. . “
In a statement responding to the Mail on Sunday report, Patel and Home Office permanent secretary Matthew Rycroft said the “personal and anonymous attacks” were “regrettable and a very unfortunate part of public life,” but “we will not let them distract from building a department capable of meeting the challenges of today and tomorrow.
They added, “We are both extremely grateful for the hard work of the thousands of officials who work to make it happen every day.”
In an attempt to ease tensions between departments, a senior government source insisted on Thursday that Johnson’s decision to ask Stephen Barclay, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, to chair a new ministerial task force on the Channel crossings was because it “requires all the weight of governmental and interministerial influence.
“It’s not so much that the Interior Ministry is not good,” they added.
“The Prime Minister was impressed with the way the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster seized the supply chains and therefore recruited him to repair the small boats.”
Patel was due to have a phone call with the French Home Secretary before addressing the House of Commons, with the UK and French governments under pressure to work together to find a solution.
Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron, in a phone call last night, agreed on “the urgency to step up joint efforts to prevent these deadly crossings and to do everything to stop the gangs responsible for taking people’s lives. in danger, “said a Downing Street spokesperson. .
They added: “The two leaders made it clear that today’s tragic loss of life is a stark reminder that keeping all options on the table is vital to stop these deadly crossings and break the business model. criminal gangs behind them. “
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