“Priti Patel is a politician with a consistent record of voting against basic human rights protections.”
Britain’s new Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his new cabinet appointments Wednesday and among them was a promotion for MP Priti Patel, who he named the country’s home secretary, in charge of the country’s immigration, crime and policing, counter-terrorism and drugs policy.
Patel was sacked from Theresa May’s cabinet in 2017 for having a secret diplomatic backchannel with Israeli officials, which was used to influence changes in official U.K. policy.
Home Secretary is one of the most senior positions within the cabinet, considered in Britain as one of the “great offices of state”. There are concerns about Patel being given such a senior role after admitting to wrongdoing in 2017.
When Patel served as Minister for International Development in Theresa May’s cabinet, she was forced to step down after it was revealed that she had visited Israel and held 12 secret meetings with senior officials, including Prime Minister Netanyahu. Following these meetings she returned to the U.K. and lobbied for U.K. involvement in Israeli operations in the Golan Heights (which the U.K. does not recognize as an Israeli territory), furthermore, calling for Britain to begin sending military aid to Israel.
She was accused of undermining Theresa May and “conducting her own foreign policy” in contravention of official U.K. policy.
At the time, a senior Conservative party member told the Telegraph, “She had a week full of meetings without officials and without contacting the embassy. She saw the Israeli Prime Minister with donor lobbyists and failed to declare or admit to the meetings. She commissioned policy work as a result. It is a total breach of the [ministerial] code. She’s toast.”
Patel’s record on human rights and crime has also prompted warnings among human rights advocates. The Guardian newspaper reported that she has supported anti-immigration bills, voted against same-sex marriage while coming out in support of shielding police and public officials from prosecution over crimes and corruption.
“Priti Patel is a politician with a consistent record of voting against basic human rights protections. For her to be put in charge of the Home Office is extremely concerning,” Clare Collier, advocacy director at the human rights group Liberty told the Guardian Thursday.
“The new home secretary needs urgently to put human rights at the heart of Home Office policymaking and reverse the damage caused by Theresa May’s most toxic legacy – the hostile environment.”
Many responded with shock at the appointment, Guardian and Al-Jazeera contributor Hicham Yezza said: “Priti Patel — fired for endangering UK national security through rogue meetings with a foreign power and lying to the Prime Minister about it — has been made Home Secretary, in charge of … UK national security. Even by Boris Johnson’s abysmal standards this is utterly shocking.”
This move may signal a turn in U.K. policy as Boris Johnson has long been an advocate of closer relations with the United States. Something recognized by President Donald Trump who reacted to his appointment saying, “He’s tough and he’s smart. They’re saying Britain Trump. They call him Britain Trump.”
Conservative magazine the Spectator also predicts a turn towards the U.S. saying “He’s a Churchill enthusiast and therefore an Atlanticist in outlook. He’s always preferred America’s stress on national unity (e pluribus unum) to the fragmented federalism of the European Union. He reveres the way Americans religiously sing the national anthem.”