Amid all the fanfare surrounding Boris Johnson’s first few days in office, news that Priti Patel was being promoted from the backbenches to the role of home secretary caused perhaps the greatest stir in Whitehall. A committed Thatcherite and free marketeer, not only is Ms Patel notoriously hardline on criminal justice issues — having famously declared her support for the death penalty, before eventually backtracking — but she was forced to resign from the cabinet less than two years ago over a scandal involving unauthorised talks with the Israeli government.
Yet the ardent Brexiter and Johnson loyalist — since dubbed the “Lazarus of politics” — has returned in earnest to become the most senior woman in the cabinet, heading one of the four great offices of state. Given the prime minister’s commitment to deliver Brexit by October 31, Ms Patel will have the crucial job of reshaping the immigration system when free movement ends and bringing back the “control” over incoming migrants that Leave voters were promised.
Home Office officials are already braced for a more interventionist home secretary than either Sajid Javid or Amber Rudd has been. Ms Patel’s voting record shows strong support for a stricter asylum system, tough enforcement of immigration rules and restricting legal aid, while being opposed to same-sex marriage and retaining EU human rights principles after Brexit.
In an interview with the Daily Mail this weekend, she said she hoped to make potential offenders “literally feel terror” when contemplating criminality. Mr Johnson’s administration is expected to focus relentlessly on cutting crime and reducing immigration in response to polls showing this is what matters most to voters. She was one of the authors of Britannia Unchained, a radical Tory pamphlet published in 2012 that prescribed shock therapy to correct what it saw as a nation beset by a workforce of “idlers”, a bloated welfare state and timid approach to entrepreneurship. Ms Patel’s appointment to the Home Office has prompted an outcry from human rights groups concerned about her regressive stance on social issues and support for the department’s controversial hostile environment policies on immigration.
Read more: Financial Times, https://is.gd/kkjSGK