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Who is Priti Patel? The ‘bully’ UK Home Secretary with some tough views on immigration

Indian-origin UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has faced allegations of bullying staff and has been criticised for her tough immigration and terror laws.

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New Delhi: Indian-origin UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has been in hot water for allegedly “bullying” staff. Now, she is under pressure to quit after holding the post for less than a year.

Sir Phillip Rutnam, the senior most official in the Home Office, resigned Saturday accusing Patel of leading a “vicious and orchestrated briefing campaign” against him. He accused her of “swearing” and “belittling people ”, and also said he would sue the government for “constructive dismissal”. Patel has denied all claims.

Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell said this was the first time a top civil servant has made such allegations, adding that Patel is “on her way out”.

Apparently, Rutnam and Patel’s rift had been brewing and most British headlines described her as giving him the “silent treatment” up until his formal resignation. In fact, The Times cartoonist Peter Brookes recently portrayed her as ‘Flashman’, a fictional character from the 19th century novel Tom Brown’s Schooldays who was known for being cruel to younger boys.

But this isn’t the first time the 47-year-old Home Secretary has been called a bully.

When Patel was employment minister in 2015, a former aide made a complaint against her citing bullying and harassment followed by a 25,000 pounds payout. A source close to Patel told the BBC that she is “unaware of any complaint being made”.

Though the Cabinet Office is to investigate the recent allegations against Patel, the Labour Party is demanding an independent inquiry and for her to be suspended from duties during that time.

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Indian-origin but Britain-bred

Patel was born in London in 1972 to Indian parents, Sushil and Anjana. They had moved from Gujarat to Uganda in the 1950s and then emigrated to the UK, just about fleeing the Ugandan Asian expulsion of 1972. They settled in Hertfordshire and established a chain of newsagents.

Young Patel studied Economics at Keele University and then completed a postgraduate degree in British Government and Politics at the University of Essex.

Her father’s family hails from Tarapur in Gujarat’s Anand district.

According to her father’s cousin, Kiran Patel, Priti has not visited Tarapur and her interaction with Gujarat has been “limited to representing the UK at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit”.

Rocky start to political career

Patel’s political career in the UK had a rocky start. In 1995, she began working for the Referendum Party, then switched to the Conservative Party in 1997 where she faced difficulties when it came to party candidature. She quit politics for PR in 2000, working for Weber Shandwick and then Diageo for the next 7 years.

She re-entered politics and the Conservative Party around 2006 and won a seat from the all-white rural parliamentary constituency of Witham in Country Essex after the 2010 general elections. At this time, she was hailed to be the new young face in a changing, multicultural Conservative Party.

In 2014, she lodged an official complaint with the BBC over its “one-sided coverage” of PM Narendra Modi on the eve of the Lok Sabha elections.

After Conservatives bagged the 2015 general elections, Patel was made a Cabinet-level employment minister. She was a hard-liner for Brexit, and was often branded as a token girl for the campaign. This was around the time the first bullying allegation emerged.

In 2016, Patel was elevated to International Development Secretary under Theresa May as PM, but was forced to resign after it was found that she was holding meetings with Israeli figures including Benjamin Netanyahu, without May’s knowledge. She apologised for the meetings in a 2018 interview with Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain but said there was “no malice intended”.

In July 2019, Boris Johnson brought back Patel as Home Secretary and has defended her against the bullying allegations.

Tough policies

Patel has been criticised for proposing a points-based immigration system which aims to cap cheap and low-skilled workers immigrating to the UK.

When asked in a radio interview whether her parents would have qualified in the new system when they emigrated to the UK, Patel hesitated and said the system was moving with the times.

She has also come under fire for her policies to de-radicalise youths in the UK and in particular, the emergency anti-terror legislation passed earlier this month, which she says is essential in keeping the public safe and stopping the automatic early release of offenders.

Also read: Brexit is finally done, but not really


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  1. There is an underlying suspicion of Priti Patel within the corridors of whitehall. Whose bidding was she doing in Israel? Was it for the interests of the UK or for interests of Mr Modi and the BJP. (India and Israel have a common religous enemy) .Ms Patel is probably the most dangerous person within British politcs. Her views and admiration of Modi and the right wing are well known. Mr Modi has a direct line to Ms Patel via family connections, and in effect a direct line to the UK parliament. We Indians were full of pride when she was selected into the cabinet, but all we have done is put the Mr Modi’s trojan horse within the walls of true democracy.

  2. Yes, every country must look at people who work and earn and keep their country safe. India also struggling with huge population and high skilled students with loss of jobs. Such high skilled look at uk for IMMIGRATION as said bu you for jobs.

  3. ”IMAGINE a scenario where a group of, say, Christian men abduct and rape a number of young Muslim girls over years. Actually, the response of the majority is not hard to predict: there would be blood on the streets from Kasur to Karachi; churches would have been destroyed, and entire communities torched.’’ Dawn, Irfan Hussain
    For many years, underage white girls are systematically abused by Pakistani men and the government machinery is looking the other way to save race relations. Priti wants to stop that abuse and he is taking the entire UK police department to task about this and all other crimes.

  4. Priti is doing what is good for the country. It is time to be tough to keep the country safe from criminals. Free immigration is draining the exchequer and for many, it is a life long ticket for free meals and free everything, from cradle to grave. UK is producing a generation of lazy buggers who will never know what hard working is. UK has enough lazy idiots who just drink and watch TV while the rest of the country slogs day in and day out. Time to give a good kick at their backside and earn their bread.

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