The now former Home Secretary has been at the forefront of the hostile environment
Priti Patel handed in her resignation to Boris Johnson on the evening of September 5. She’s stepping down as Home Secretary, and will be returning to the backbenchers under Liz Truss.
Patel shared her two-page resignation letter on Twitter. The letter itself is a damning description of her time in the Home Office, and the Tories’ hard-right policies on migration.
Boasting that, under Johnson, the Tories had “re-affirmed the Conservative Party’s status as the party of law and order”, she goes on to detail a series of migration policy ‘successes’ she had during her time as Home Secretary.
Patel starts that list by claiming to have “used our Brexit freedoms to take back control of our immigration laws with a points-based immigration system”. That’s the same ‘points-based system’ that has contributed to labour shortages across the UK, in everything from hospitals to hospitality.
She goes on to celebrate the much criticised Rwanda deportation scheme – branding it a “world-first” and stressing that she wants to see the new government of Liz Truss maintaining it. The Rwanda policy has been described by migration and human rights experts as “cruel” and “inhumane”. The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby even went so far as to say it did not stand “the judgement of God”.
The language of the letter is also a stark reminder of Patel and the Tories’ attitudes towards migrants. She refers to migrants who have “abused our hospitality”, who “should not be in this country” and working to end the “legal merry go round of barriers which stop the Government from removing migrants from the UK”. This is the language of the hostile environment and of a government that has made our migration system less humane, more authoritarian and more repressive.
Towards the end of the letter, Patel reminds us of her role as a key player in the Tories’ culture wars. She says that her ‘achievements’ have been delivered “despite the relentless efforts of our political opponents, and left-wing activists, lawyers and campaigners who have sought to block these measures.”
Patel is right in one sense – there has been relentless campaigning to oppose the government’s migration policy. But it’s not – as Patel claims – because “they want to stand up for the criminals, terrorists, people smugglers, those with no right to be in the UK, and people who threaten public safety and would do our country harm”. Instead, it’s because the rights of migrants are important – and Patel and her government have done everything they can get away with to take them away.
Priti Patel will not be missed now she’s gone from the frontbench. But her legacy will be taken up by Liz Truss – who has promised to continue Rwanda deportation policy and expand it to other countries. Whoever is appointed as Patel’s replacement, the worst may still be to come.
Chris Jarvis is head of strategy and development at Left Foot Forward
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