Priti Patel dismisses Cameron’s Brexit attack

Priti Patel (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Priti Patel (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

British home secretary Priti Patel has brushed off former prime minister David Cameron’s stinging attack on her and her Brexiteer colleagues, saying the Tories have moved on.

In Cameron’s autobiography, being serialised in the Times, he has lashed out at a number of his former colleagues, including Boris Johnson and Environment Secretary Michael Gove.

But, he said it was the behaviour of Patel, who was an employment minister at the time, 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,” said Cameron, adding: “I was stuck, though: unable to fire her, because that would make her a Brexit martyr.”

Asked about the criticism on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show on Sunday (15), Patel said she had “enjoyed” working with the prime minister.

“Obviously the referendum has happened, we have moved on and the fact of the matter is we are now working to deliver that referendum mandate,” she said. “That is so important. There is no point in going over the past.”

Patel was a prominent Brexiteer and member of the Leave campaign, and she had made a series of speeches during the referendum campaign calling for a visa regime that did not favour the European Union (EU) over migrants from non-EU countries like India.

Cameron blames the entire Leave camp of stirring up a “cauldron of toxicity” with lies about the facts and figures around immigration and what the UK’s membership of the EU cost Britain.

He writes: “While we were saying membership of the EU was worth GBP 4,300 to each family, the leave campaigners claimed Britain was spending GBP 350 million a week on it. On May 11 [2016] they unveiled their liveried battle bus, emblazoned with the words, ‘We send the EU £350 million a week. Let’s fund our NHS instead’.

“It wasn’t true. As Boris rode the bus round the country, he left the truth at home. The bus was disingenuous, it was tenuous — but it was also ingenious. The fact that it was inaccurate actually helped the leave campaigners.”

(with PTI)