Priti Patel to quit as Home Secretary saying it has been 'the honour of my life'

5 September 2022, 17:49 | Updated: 5 September 2022, 19:02

Priti Patel has said she will officially step down once Liz Truss is formally appointed on Tuesday
Priti Patel has said she will officially step down once Liz Truss is formally appointed on Tuesday. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Priti Patel has quit as Home Secretary following the election of Liz Truss as the new Conservative Party leader.

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The MP, who has been Home Secretary since July 2019, has written to outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing that she will step down tomorrow.

She said it had been the "honour of my life" to serve in the role.

In her letter to Mr Johnson, shared on social media, Ms Patel said it was her "choice" to continue her public service from the backbenches, when Ms Truss formally takes up her post as prime minister on Tuesday.

"I congratulate Liz Truss on being elected our new leader, and will give her my support as our new prime minister," her letter to Boris Johnson said.

"It is my choice to continue my public service to the country and the Witham constituency from the backbenches, once Liz formally assumes office and a new home secretary is appointed."

Ms Patel said the "political system was broken" when Mr Johnson became Prime Minister, writing: "Parliament was tearing itself apart as some MPs showed contempt for our democracy and desperately tried to block Brexit.

"You set out a clear plan to get Brexit done, broke the deadlock in Parliament, and secured a historic Conservative victory at the 2019 General Election."

She said she and Mr Johnson had "re-affirmed the Conservative Party's status as the party of law and order".

While she pledged her support for the new leader, she said it was "vital" that she continued to support the policies she had pursued to tackle illegal immigration - including the deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda.

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Her departure comes amid reports that Ms Truss is planning to appoint Attorney General Suella Braverman as home secretary when she begins assembling her new cabinet.

Fiercely loyal to Mr Johnson, she was one of the few cabinet ministers not to declare their support for either Ms Truss or her leadership rival, Rishi Sunak.

Her three years in office have been marked by a series of controversies - not least her attempts to stem the flow of migrants crossing the Channel.

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Earlier this year she signed what she described as a "landmark" agreement with Rwanda to send refugees to the east African state to claim asylum there.

However, the first deportation flight, which had been due to take off in June, was grounded amid a series of legal challenges and so far no deportations have taken place.

Since then, the numbers crossing the Channel have continued to rise with the daily total topping 1,000 for the second time this year on Sunday.

In her letter to Mr Johnson, Ms Patel argued that it was "vital" to press on with the policy, signalling that she would continue to champion the scheme from the backbenches.

"As we know, there is no single solution to this huge challenge and the Government must tackle the full spectrum of issues to halt the illegal entry of migrants to the UK," she said.

Her departure came after it was announced that another ally of Mr Johnson - Tory Party co-chairman Ben Elliot - was also standing down.