British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday expressed “full confidence” in home secretary Priti Patel after an inquiry into her alleged bullying behaviour with civil servants concluded that she did behave in a way that amounted to bullying.
Alex Allan, the UK government’s standards adviser, resigned soon after Johnson stood by Patel, prompting another political row, days after Downing Street witnessed the resignations of two top advisers that were seen as the prime minister resetting his office.
Patel, who has faced such allegations while working in the home office and other departments, apologised for her behaviour that the adviser said amounted to breaching the ministerial code of conduct. Several Conservative MPs lent her support.
Labour leader Keir Starmer said, “Yet again, the prime minister has been found wanting when his leadership has been tested. If I were prime minister, the home secretary would have been removed from her job.
“It is hard to imagine another workplace in the UK where this behaviour would be condoned by those at the top. The government should be setting an example. Instead, it is one rule for Boris Johnson and his friends, another for everyone else.”
He added, “The prime minister has previously said he loathes bullying. Yet when one of his own ministers is found to have bullied their staff, he ignores the damning report sat on his desk and instead protects them.”
A government spokesperson said Johnson is reassured that Patel is sorry for inadvertently upsetting those with whom she was working. As the arbiter of the ministerial code, Johnson’s judgement is that the code was not breached, the spokesperson added.
“The prime minister has full confidence in the home secretary and considers this matter now closed. He is grateful to the thousands of civil servants working extremely hard to support delivery of the government’s priorities,” the statement said.
Breaching ministerial code usually leads to a minister resigning. Patel had been asked to resign by former PM Theresa May in 2017 for holding unauthorised official meetings during a holiday when she was the international development secretary.
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