Yvette Cooper Says Priti Patel Is The “Weakest Home Secretary I’ve Ever Seen”
Exclusive: Yvette Cooper has described Priti Patel as “the weakest Home Secretary that I’ve ever seen” and declared that “Priti Patel's Home Office is failing” amid widespread criticism of the UK’s Ukrainian refugee scheme.
In a new interview that will appear in full in The House magazine next week, the shadow home secretary claimed that the Home Office is effectively “in special measures” as “huge swathes of policy are ending up having to be handed over to other government departments instead”.
“There should be a plan to sort the Home Office out," Cooper explained.
"There's no plan coming from Priti Patel to sort any of these problems out – not even actually any recognition that there are problems.”
The Labour front-bencher pledged that she would “focus on the detail and delivery and what's actually happening in practice” if they were to take office – in contrast to Patel, who she believes has focused on “headlines”.
Cooper's comments follow reports that some Ukrainian refugees seeking to enter the UK are facing homelessness while waiting for over a month for Home Office approval to travel, with hundreds of cases from the early stages of the scheme not yet processed.
“We know that there is still a several-day delay that lots of people are experiencing between visas being issued and people receiving their permission to travel on being notified about it," Cooper added.
“Why would any minister not just get rid of those delays? I don't understand. I don't understand why [Patel] doesn't do those sorts of basic things.”
Labour MP Ellie Reeves told the Commons last week that a Ukrainian woman and her three-year-old son –sponsored by one of her constituents – had been forced to return to Ukraine after losing access to temporary accommodation in Poland.
Reeves told PoliticsHome that the situation was “absolutely appalling”.
“The design and management of this means that lives are now being put at risk and we are failing to help vulnerable families in their hour of need,” she added.
Cooper also criticised the handling of asylum cases under Patel more widely. "How can we come to a situation where the number of asylum decisions taken a year could halve in the space of six years?" she asked.
"How could any minister allow that kind of collapse in decision making, without taking basic action to sort it out?
"Why is there not even any sense of recognition of these basic delivery failures from any minister other than Richard Harrington, who has been brought in and who is struggling to get anything to happen at all?"
Boris Johnson has brought in Lord Harrington as refugees minister to help with the Ukraine scheme, while hundreds of civil servants from across government have been drafted to the Home Office to assist in clearing the backlog of visa cases.
Read the full Yvette Cooper interview in The House magazine next week.
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