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Priti Patel: Tories are no longer the party of meritocracy

2 min read

Former Cabinet minister Priti Patel has lashed out at Theresa May’s Conservatives, saying they are no longer the party of meritocracy.

In an interview with The House magazine, the ex-International Development Secretary accused the Tories of abandoning their core principles of “economic and political freedom” and becoming “very, very lazy” in the ideological battle against Labour.  

Ms Patel also expressed her devotion to former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who she said had been "in tune” with voters.

She said: “I’m a proud Thatcherite, because she was in tune with the hopes and aspirations of the British public, not just when she became leader of the Conservative party but throughout her time in office.

“Meritocracy, political and economic freedom, those should be the DNA of the Conservative party. Quite frankly, I don’t see much of that going on right now.”

The Witham MP – who was booted out of the Cabinet last year after holding secret meetings with senior Israeli politicians during a family holiday – also criticised the Government’s handling of Brexit.

Asked if the problem was that the Prime Minister and the Chancellor were both Remainers, she replied: “I have to say, originally I thought it wasn’t. But I think it’s fair to say that there’s something in that. There is absolutely something in that.

"I actually resent the negativity. The role of Conservatives is to be aspirational and positive and be on the side of people, working to support people. In my view, politics is about putting people first.”

Ms Patel added: "Brexit has sucked the intellectual lifeblood and capacity out of government and out of our politicians. I disagree with that fundamentally, on the basis that Brexit is a fantastic opportunity.

“The relentless negativity associated by politicians – actually, the establishment in Westminster and Whitehall – is dreadful.

“They should be at the forefront of being the advocates of change, taking on the reins of freedom, empowerment, meritocracy, looking at what that change could mean for our country.

“Sadly, we don’t see enough of that.”

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