Priti Patel found herself at the centre of a blame game over the migrant crisis last night, as she claimed she had been repeatedly let down by other Ministers – as Whitehall slammed her for ‘doing nothing for two years’ to prevent the crossings.
Tragedy hit the Channel this week when a raft of migrants crossing to Britain sank, killing at least 27 on board including seven women – one of whom was pregnant – and three children.
Boris Johnson has privately criticised the Home Secretary over his inability to “get a handle” on the subject. He was also joined by other Ministers at the meeting that took place after the drowning tragedy.
The 49-year-old’s friends however hit back, accusing other ministers of doing ‘sweet f*** all’ to help with the situation and accusing the French of refusing to cooperate.
However, concerns continue to grow about Ms. Patel’s abilities to handle the crossings which are now nearly three times as high last year.
Priti Patel (49) launched last night a defense of how she handled the migrant crisis when faced with pressure from MPs and Ministers
The Channel was hit by tragedy this week as a ship carrying migrants from the Middle East sank. It killed at least 27 passengers, including seven pregnant women and three children.
One official from No10 attacked Ms Patel for ‘doing nothing for two years’, while a cabinet colleague said that she ‘has got to get a grip’.
According to the Sunday Times, they said that she had overpromised but not delivered for two years. It’s been all mouth and no trousers and everyone, including the PM, is getting fed up of her.’
A cabinet minister also accused her of “missing in action” for interviews about the news regarding 27 drowned people on Wednesday.
The Prime Minister is still publicly supportive for Ms Patel but there are claims that he has lost trust in his Home secretary. Rumours of a Home Secretary being fired by the Prime Minister were refuted by Number 10.
Boris Johnson has privately criticised the Home Secretary over his inability to “get a grasp” on the subject. He was also joined by other Ministers at a meeting that took place in the wake the drowning tragedy.
Following a Twitter post by Boris Johnson, Mr Macron complained that Ms Patel had violated protocol and posted an open letter.
In a further escalation of rhetoric, Michel Barnier, the EU’s former Brexit negotiator, who is running in France’s presidential election, urged France to tear up its migrant treaty with the UK.
The Prime Minister is understood to have privately rebuked Ms Patel for failing to ‘get a grip’ on the issue, and was joined in his criticisms by other Ministers at a meeting in the wake of the drowning tragedy.
A source said: ‘She has had two years to sort this out, but the situation is worse than ever. She is happy to bask in the limelight when things are going well, but seems to go missing when it goes wrong.’
However, allies of Ms Patel hit back by blaming the French – and her ministerial colleagues.
Ms. Patel had been scheduled to meet President Emmanuel Macron, to discuss the crisis. However, the French government cancelled it in a fit pique after Boris Johnson sent an open letter
A Home Office source said: ‘This letter debacle shows publicly what Priti has been battling against in private for the last two years. We’ve already made every offer the French Prime Minister made in his previous letter.
‘We could offer them a pot of unlimited gold and a magic wand to make this all stop and they would still find a reason to say no.
‘People say she should get a grip of the situation, and now they can all see for themselves what she’s up against.
‘Departments across Whitehall have sat on their hands for two years and it’s only now they are starting to even look at what our asks of them are.
‘What would anyone else have done differently? Two years ago, many people tried to soften what we had suggested.
‘It’s only thanks to Priti that offshoring and outsourcing even remain options’.
Baran Nouri Hamadami (northern Iraqi) was pictured together with her husband. They were among 27 victims of the Calais tsunami earlier in this week.
On Wednesday, 27 migrants including children and women drowned when their boat sank in Calais. Pictured: The migrants prepare to cross Channel on November 24
It is believed that Ms Patel is particularly mad at Dominic Raab the Justice Secretary who was acting as Foreign Secretary.
On Friday, Mr Macron criticised Mr Johnson for breaking protocol by publicly posting his letter, which was addressed ‘Dear Emmanuel’.
The French President, who is gearing up for an election next year, said he would ‘work seriously to settle serious issues with serious people’, and ‘move forward efficiently with the British, if they decide to get serious’.
But the Prime Minister’s spokesman defended publishing the letter and said: ‘The public understandably want to know what we’re doing to prevent this from happening again.’
The Prime Minister is understood to have privately rebuked Ms Patel for failing to ‘get a grip’ on the issue, and was joined in his criticisms by other Ministers at a meeting in the wake of the drowning tragedy
Migrants set up camp on a railway line in Grande-Synthe near Calais after police smashed their previous camp
During this time, the Crisis has also caused divisions in the Opposition.
Last night, some Labour MPs privately complained that the party was once again alienating its ‘patriotic’ working-class voters by appearing to side with the French President in the diplomatic spat over Mr Johnson’s letter.
They pointed to how Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds had described the French decision to cancel Priti Patel’s invitation to talks as ‘a humiliation’ for Mr Johnson and his Home Secretary.
The former Labour Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who is now chief executive of the International Rescue Mission, said that Mr Johnson’s letter to the French President was ‘unwise’.
One senior Labour MP said last night: ‘The party’s making a mistake here – the working-class vote will support Boris on this.’