Priti Patel’s comments on reporting lockdown parties to police have come back to haunt her

Elaine McCallig
Thursday 13 January 2022 09:55
Politics

A tweet posted by Priti Patel has come back to haunt her amid the Number 10 parties scandal.

Yesterday Boris Johnson kicked off PMQs by apologising after the publication of a leaked email that invited 100 employees to “socially distanced drinks in the No 10 garden” on 20 May 2020.

The prime minister said he thought the BYOB (bring your own booze) gathering was “a work event”. 

The 20th May gathering is the latest in a string of parties allegedly held by the government during Covid lockdowns.

Priti Patel, the home secretary, has reportedly expressed her support in a WhatsApp group for Tory MPs.

But people on Twitter have been quick to remind the Witham MP of a tweet she posted in January of last year.

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She retweeted a clip from the Metropolitan Police that showed officers breaking up an illegal rave in Hackney during lockdown.

She wrote: “This illegal gathering was an insult to those hospitalised with Covid, our NHS staff and everyone staying at home to protect them.

“Thank you to @MetPoliceUK officers for risking your own health to break it up. Police are enforcing the rules to save lives.”

Twitter users were quick to call out the contrasting takes from the home secretary:

Labour MP Yvette Cooper also shared a screenshot of an article from The Independent published in September 2020 in which Patel insisted she would call the police if her neighbours were holding parties and flouting the rule of six restrictions in England at the time.

Cooper commented: “Sept 2020 Priti Patel said she’d call police to report neighbours holding parties. Today she’s defending Boris Johnson after he admitted doing just that.

“As Home Sec she’s responsible for upholding the rule of law for all. Not one rule for your mates & another for everyone else.”

Following the apology, cabinet ministers have rallied behind the prime minister, flooding broadcast studios and social media with praise for Johnson.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she stands behind the prime minister 100 per cent, while Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC it was a “daft question” when asked whether he would run again for the Tory leadership.

“I’m fully supportive of this prime minister and I’m sure he will continue for many years to come,” he said.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove, and Chancellor Rishi Sunak also took to Twitter following yesterday’s apology.

Dorries wrote: “PM was right to personally apologise earlier. People are hurt and angry at what happened and he has taken full responsibility for that. The inquiry should now be allowed to its work and establish the full facts of what happened [sic].”

Gove added: “Nadine is right.”

Sunak said: “The PM was right to apologise and I support his request for patience while Sue Gray carries out her enquiry.”

Following speculation over why he had not publicly supported Mr Johnson earlier, he said: “I’ve been on a visit all day today continuing work on our #PlanForJobs as well as meeting MPs to discuss the energy situation.”

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng also reportedly expressed his support the Tory MP Whatsapp group.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “I completely understand why people feel let down. The PM did the right thing by apologising.

“Now we need to let the investigation complete its work. We have so much to get on with including rolling out boosters, testing and antivirals – so we can live with Covid.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Times Radio: “I think the prime minister was very contrite today, he apologised and he took full responsibility.”

Meanwhile, Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg told the broadcaster: “I think the prime minister has got things right again and again and again.

“But like us all, he accepts that during a two-and-a-half-year period, there will be things that with hindsight would have been done differently.”

Asked if the PM will resign if Ms Gray’s report found wrongdoing, Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “I don’t think we should get ahead of ourselves here. We should take this a step at a time.”

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace also backed the PM, as did International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay, Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi, Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden, Attorney General Suella Braverman and Cop26 President Alok Sharma.

Indy100 has contacted Priti Patel for comment.

Additional reporting by PA.

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