Politics

Boris Johnson ‘has lost faith’ in Priti Patel over Channel migrant crisis


CABINET ministers embarked on a civil war over the Channel migrant crisis yesterday — with Priti Patel at its centre.

Frustrated colleagues blasted the Home Secretary and claimed Boris Johnson had lost patience with her — while her allies insisted she was having to fight a “lone battle”.

Priti's allies say she has faced a solo battle to get tough measures into her Nationality and Borders Bill

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Priti’s allies say she has faced a solo battle to get tough measures into her Nationality and Borders BillCredit: AFP

It comes after the crisis was thrown into sharp focus last week when 27 people — 17 men, seven women and three kids — died when their dinghy sank off Calais.

The PM is said to be enraged by warnings from MPs that the small boat migrant tide entering the UK could cost him the next election.

A record 25,700 have arrived so far this year, dwarfing the 8,410 who made the treacherous trip across the English Channel in 2020.

He rounded on his top team and told them to work together to fix the problem. That triggered a briefing war against Ms Patel.

One ministerial source said: “Boris is fuming over this. He’s heard a lot of talk about fixing this problem but two years on it’s even worse.”

Another said: “It’s down to Priti. She’s talked a good game but she hasn’t yet delivered and our constituents are letting us know big time.”

But the Home Secretary’s allies say she has been let down by Cabinet colleagues — and even the PM.

They say she has faced a solo battle to get tough measure into her Nationality and Borders Bill.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace was blamed for blocking her demands to use the Royal Navy in to patrol the Channel.

And efforts to send asylum-seekers to a third country for processing have been hindered by the “foot-dragging and indifference” of the Foreign Office, they add.

One source said: “It’s no surprise we’re in this mess. Priti has been fighting a lone battle while departments across Whitehall have sat on their hands for two years.

“It’s only now they are starting to look at what they can do.”

A source asked: “What else could anyone have done differently? For two years, people have been trying to water down what Priti has suggested. It was only because she dug her heels in that sending migrants to have their claims processed offshore even remains an option.”

One ally said: “In the past few days the PM has seen first-hand what Priti’s been dealing with. He’s clearly frustrated and wants to knock heads together but it would have been more productive had this been done much sooner.”

In today’s Sun on Sunday, Ms Patel says she understands people’s frustrations but warns there is “no silver bullet” to solve the crisis.

She writes: “Be in no doubt, this Government understand the public’s deep concerns about illegal immigration: the security of our country and the integrity of our border remain my number one priority.”

She said ministers “need to be creative” in finding solutions that will have the maximum impact.

No.10 last night denied Mr Johnson had lost patience with Ms Patel.

A source said: “The Home Secretary has the Prime Minister’s full support.

“Some people are frustrated because this problem has been going on for a long time.

“But these briefings aren’t helping to solve it.”

Grant Shapps urges France to reconsider its decision to scrap talks with Priti Patel

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