Priti Patel shrugs off David Cameron attack on 'liar' Brexiteers as she says Tories have 'moved on'

Posted On: 
15th September 2019

Priti Patel has brushed off a stinging attack on her and her Brexiteer colleagues from David Cameron.

Mr Cameron said he wanted to fire Ms Patel but steered clear because she would become a Brexit 'martyr'.

The Home Secretary said the Tories had "moved on" as she declared: "There is no point going over the past." 

Ms Patel is one of several leading Leave campaigners to come in for criticism in the former prime minister's memoirs, which are being serialised in The Sunday Times.

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Mr Cameron accuses the Brexit campaign - fronted by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove - of behaving "appallingly", and claims the current occupant of Number 10 only backed Brexit "because it would help his political career".

But the former PM says it was the behaviour of Ms Patel, who was an employment minister at the time and joined the Vote Leave campaign, that "shocked me most".

"She used every announcement, interview and speech to hammer the government on immigration, even though she was part of that government," Mr Cameron says, adding: "I was stuck, though: unable to fire her, because that would make her a Brexit martyr." 

Ms Patel, now the Home Secretary under Mr Johnson, said it had been a "privilege" to serve in the Cameron government, and said she had "enjoyed working with him".

But she told the BBC's Andrew Marr: "Obviously, you know, the referendum has happened. We've all moved on. And the fact of the matter is we're now working to deliver that referendum mandate. That is so important.

"There is no point going over the past."

And, in a thinly-veiled dig at Mr Cameron, the Cabinet minister pointed out that the then-PM had pledged to hold the in-out Brexit referendum in the Conservatives' 2015 manifesto in the first place.

"Whether it is taking back control of our borders, our laws, our money - those issues are still prevalent to the debates and the discussion today," she said.

"And the reality is, it's the job of this government, a Conservative government, to deliver on effectively what was a 2015 manifesto commitment... to give the referendum."


The comments came as Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay disputed Mr Cameron's claim that Mr Johnson had not truly believed in Brexit when he decided to back the campaign in 2016.

According to the ex-Tory leader's memoirs, Mr Johnson believed he would "would become the darling of the party" and had been "certain the Brexit side would lose".

But, asked whether the current Prime Minister really believed Brexit, Mr Barclay told Sky's Sophy Ridge: "He does. He led the [Leave] campaign.

And you’ll recall... at the time, the Remain side was expected to win so the more prudent thing if someone is looking surely at their career would have been to back Remain - as I remember myself because I backed Leave as the only member of the Whip's Office to do so and Remain would have been the easier career choice."

Mr Barclay said of Mr Johnson's decision to push for a Leave outcome: "He did so because he believes in Brexit and he is committed to delivering it."

The Cabinet minister stopped short of attacking Mr Cameron, however, saying he would also be remembered for "repairing the economy".

"Of course it’s nothing compared to what Jeremy Corbyn would do if he was put in charge of the economy now but we inherited an economy in appalling shape, and what David Cameron did was repair that economy and actually pave the way for the very positive spending review that the current Chancellor, Sajid Javid, was able to do," Mr Barclay argued.