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Fri, 5 June 2020

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Boris Johnson says he has 'full confidence' in Priti Patel amid row over access to MI5 briefings

Boris Johnson says he has 'full confidence' in Priti Patel amid row over access to MI5 briefings
2 min read

Boris Johnson has expressed his "full confidence" in Home Secretary Priti Patel amid claims she had been cut out of intelligence briefings.


It comes after reports the Cabinet minister had demanded an inquiry into leaks suggesting she was not trusted by security officers and had bullied staff in her department.

An ally of Ms Patel had said she was "absolutely livid" at the anonymous briefings, saying she had ordered the Cabinet Office to investigate the "false allegations" against her.

A Home Office source told The Sunday Times security officers found her "extremely difficult" to work with, adding: "She doesn't grasp the subtleties of intelligence.

"It's not black and white. They don't have confidence in her abilities."

But in a show of support for the embattled Home Secretary, a spokesperson for Boris Johnson said: "The Prime Minister has full confidence in the Home Secretary and the vital work that she is doing to make our streets safer and take back control of the UK's borders."

Pressed on whether Mr Johnson was confident MI5 was sharing all intelligence with her, they added: "As has been set out extremely clearly, the Home Secretary and MI5 have a strong and close working relationship.

"Baseless claims to the contrary are wrong. The Home Secretary gets the same security briefings as her predecessors."

Meanwhile, in a highly unusual intervention, a security service source also spoke out, saying the reports were "simply untrue" and against the public interest.

The latest allegations came after Ms Patel was accused of creating an "atmosphere of fear" in her department following reports she had tried out oust her top mandarin, Sir Philip Rutnam.

But a joint statement released by the pair denied reports of a rift, saying they were "deeply concerned" by the reports, and insisted they were focused on the department's "hugely important agenda".

Meanwhile, allies of the Home Secretary have hit out at the anonymous briefings, with former environment secretary Theresa Villiers telling the BBC she was "sick of spiteful briefings against women in high public office".

Pressed on whether she thought the leaks had a misogynistic element, she told the BBC's Today Programme: "Yes, I do. I think that there are clearly people who are out to damage the Home Secretary."

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