Priti Patel has stepped down as home secretary following the triumph of Liz Truss in the race to become the UK’s prime minister.
Patel’s exit after three controversial years in the post is expected to be the first of several big name departures once Truss is installed as PM by the Queen at Balmoral on Tuesday (September 6).
As such, Patel sent her resignation letter to Boris Johnson who is PM until he also goes to Scotland tomorrow and formally resigns to the Queen. In it, Patel said she will “give her [Truss] my support as our new prime minister” and added “it is my choice” to return to the backbenches.
However, Patel was reportedly very keen to keep her HO job so likely quit before she was sacked. Suella Braverman is hotly tipped to take over the Home Office as Truss’s home secretary.
While the news will delight Tories on the hard right of the party, i columnist Ian Dunt tweeted sentiments of people fearful of the shift: “Enjoy this. This brief moment of bliss, this fleeting hour of joy, in between one monstrous reactionary and the next.”
Dunt added: “We currently have the best home secretary of the last few decades: an absence.”
Truss is expected to begin her reshuffle immediately and Patel’s resignation coming alongside that of Conservative party co-chairman Ben Elliot – the nephew of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and founder of Quintessentially, the concierge service for the mega-wealthy.
The company was under investigation over reports about providing political access for its members – alongside the renting of luxury yachts, private gigs with popstars and bespoke first class travel services – and found it “had not been engaging in consultant lobbying activity”.
Elliot stepped down from his Tory party position today (September 5) saying he wanted to give Truss “freedom” to appoint her own party chairperson.
Truss snubs Sunak
Kwasi Kwarteng is favourite to become the new chancellor and James Cleverly foreign secretary. Ben Wallace has reportedly asked to stay on as defence secretary while Truss’s longtime friend Thérèse Coffey is tipped to be the new health secretary.
However, Rishi Sunak is not expected to be a member of Truss’s government with sources close to the new PM telling the Guardian the former chancellor “would not be offered a post”. It is a “break from the tradition” of unsuccessful leadership candidates being offered positions in the victor’s cabinet. After the election result as announced, defeated Sunak told the BBC that cabinet was “not something I’m thinking about”.
Truss’s victory is not as comprehensive as her supporters had hoped and falls well short of those achieved by her predecessors David Cameron, Teresa May and Boris Johnson. Not only were they more popular with party members, they also had far more support from their MPs during their leadership race.
Given Truss is set to reward loyalty – the snubbing of Sunak being the prime example – there are fears among the many Tories who believe unity must be rebuilt. The UK’s third female prime minister (all Tory) said she will “deliver, deliver, deliver” in her victory speech. Her government faces major crises on multiple fronts with every secretary of state encountering existential issues demanding urgent solutions.
New York Times Opinion (NYTO) tweeted the UK’s fourth [Conservative] PM in seven years is “inheriting a nation falling apart at the seams”, alongside Jonathan Pie’s satirical video summary on the situation.
“People in Britain “see that they are ruled by a government that is ruled by corporations. Not led by morality, but led by money,’” says Pie. “And Liz Truss embodies that painful truth perhaps even more than Boris did.”