Prime Minister says he ‘absolutely’ has confidence in embattled Home Secretary

The Prime Minister has confirmed he "absolutely" has full confidence in Home Secretary Priti Patel after her most senior adviser quit and levelled bullying accusations against her.

There had been calls for Ms Patel to resign as Secretary of State following the explosive resignation of the Home Office's top civil servant on Saturday.

But Boris Johnson told reporters during a visit to Public Health England in North London: "I absolutely do have confidence in Priti Patel.
"I think she is a fantastic Home Secretary.

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Johnson silent over when he first knew of Priti Patel bullying allegations
Vanessa Feltz (left) sips tea with newly elected Witham MP Priti Patel during an event supporting Breast Cancer Care's Strawberry Tea fundraising campaign at the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London.
Prime Minister David Cameron speaks with Witham MP Priti Patel in front of the Shah Sayyid Tomb in the Lodi Gardens in Delhi, India.
Prime Minister David Cameron and Witham MP Priti Patel, walk through Kolkata, India, where they visited the Howrah Bridge which was built by the Cleveland Bridge and Engineering Company.
Priti Patel who is the new Employment Minister, arrives at 10 Downing Street in London, as the PM puts the finishing touches to his new cabinet.
(left to right) Justice Secretary Michael Gove, Minister for Employment Priti Patel and Works and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith arrive in Downing Street to take part in the first Cabinet meeting since the Conservative Party won the General Election.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (centre) is flanked by Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Hugo Swire (left) and Priti Patel (right) as he arrives at Heathrow Airport, London, for an official three day visit.
Employment minister Priti Patel launches a new government scheme to give extra careers advice to school pupils during a visit to Holy Trinity Catholic School in Birmingham.
(Left to right) John Whittingdale, Theresa Villiers, Michael Gove, Chris Grayling, Iain Duncan Smith and Priti Patel attend the launch of the Vote Leave campaign at the group's headquarters in central London.
EDITORIAL USE ONLY Minister for Employment Priti Patel tries her hand at painting with Matt Gray, Painting Skills Development Manager and Matt Pullen, CEO of AkzoNobel, as she officially opens AkzoNobel's Dulux Academy, the UK's first training facility dedicated to painters and decorators, Slough, Surrey.
Works and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb and Minister for Employment Priti Patel arrive for a Cabinet meeting in Downing Street, London.
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(left to right) Boris Johnson, Priti Patel and Michael Gove during a visit to Farmhouse Biscuits in Nelson, Lancashire, where they were campaigning on behalf of the Vote Leave EU referendum campaign.
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Priti Patel MP visits Shree Sanatan Hindu Mandir Temple in Wembley, London, whilst out campaigning on behalf of the Vote Leave campaign.
Priti Patel arrives at White Waltham Airfield in Maidenhead, Berkshire, to meet veterans who will outline why they are voting to leave the EU.
(Left-right) Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, International Development Secretary Priti Patel, Prime Minister Theresa May, Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London.
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall with International Development Secretary Priti Patel (right) during a reception and dinner for supporters of the British Asian Trust at Guildhall, London.
Priti Patel (left) with Boris Johnson's father Stanley Johnson and sister Rachel Johnson watch him speaking at a fringe event at the Conservative Party annual conference at the International Convention Centre, Birmingham. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel on a walkabout with local police during a visit to North Road, Harbourne, Birmingham before announcing his plan to recruit an extra 20,000 police officers and an urgent review will take place of plans to make it easier for forces to use stop-and-search powers.
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"It is never an easy job, as anyone who has been Home Secretary will testify. It is one of the toughest jobs in Government."

The Conservative Party leader was also sure to praise the work of the civil service after Sir Philip's walkout sent shock waves through Westminster and Whitehall.

The Home Office permanent secretary accused Ms Patel of orchestrating a "vicious" campaign against him, of lying about her involvement in it and of creating a climate of fear among her officials.

Speaking to the BBC, Sir Philip said "tension" developed in his relationship with the Home Secretary after he challenged her over her behaviour, which he said staff claimed included "shouting and swearing, belittling people (and) making unreasonable demands".

Mr Johnson said he was "full of admiration" for the civil service, which he said ministers "depend on" to implement changes.

Patel Rutnam

"I want to make one thing absolutely clear – I am full of admiration for our civil service and the job that they do," the PM added.

"We politicians could not begin to accomplish things without the fantastic, absolutely brilliant alpha minds in the civil service. We depend on them."

Sir Philip's resignation was followed by almost 24 hours where no minister spoke out in defence of the embattled former international development secretary.

The silence fuelled rumours that Ms Patel would be forced to resign, but the PM's backing means she is likely to survive the latest Home Office crisis.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock had earlier defended his Cabinet colleague as being "extremely courteous" in her dealings with colleagues.

Marr Hancock

And Conservative ally Nusrat Ghani MP, who was sacked as a minister by Mr Johnson last month, said the criticism of Ms Patel had sexist overtones.

Mr Hancock told the BBC's Andrew Marr programme: "Priti is a very determined Home Secretary.

"I also think she is extremely courteous, and in every dealing I've had with her she has been very courteous."

Asked on BBC Radio 5 Live whether he was accusing Sir Philip of lying, Mr Hancock added: "I'm not getting into that."

Former transport minister Ms Ghani told Sky News: "I do think it's curious that if you're providing leadership, if you're determined, working at a fantastic pace, that within men that is seen as a fantastic skill and for women sometimes it's seen as challenging."

Labour had looked to ramp up the pressure on the under-fire Home Secretary, with shadow chancellor John McDonnell suggesting she could be forced to resign.

And party leadership candidate Sir Keir Starmer also called on Ms Patel to explain to MPs the explosive allegations levelled against her by Sir Philip.

Sir Keir said: "The Home Secretary has a duty to come to Parliament on Monday to explain the allegations made about her own conduct."

Sir Philip Rutnam has made very serious allegations about the conduct of the Home Secretary Priti Patel.

It is unprecedented that a senior civil servant has raised concerns like this in such a public way. 1/5

— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) February 29, 2020

The shadow Brexit secretary has called for Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill to start "an immediate investigation" into the circumstances surrounding Sir Philip's departure.

In his statement on Saturday, Sir Philip said the campaign against him included "false" claims that he had briefed the media against the Home Secretary.

He said: "The Home Secretary categorically denied any involvement in this campaign to the Cabinet Office.

"I regret I do not believe her. She has not made the effort I would expect to dissociate herself from the comments.

"I believe these events give me very strong grounds to claim constructive, unfair dismissal and I will be pursuing that claim in the courts."

Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark issued a brief statement about two hours after Sir Philip quit, saying he had accepted his resignation "with great regret", and adding: "I thank him for his long and dedicated career of public service".

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London Mayor Boris Johnson (2nd Left) celebrates St Georges Day in Leadenhall Market in the City of London today where he saw a festival of English food and drink.
Shadow education spokesman Boris Johnson MP, attends the final day of the Conservative Party's Annual Conference in Bournemouth.
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Conservative Party MP Boris Johnson sits through a series of speeches during the Conservative Party Conference in Bournemouth.
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Boris Johnson MP addresses a group of sixth form students from schools across London after being handed a petition against plans to scrap the last remaining ancient history A-level outside the House of Commons, London.
Shadow Arts Minister Boris Johnson campaigns for donations from delegates at the Conservative Party Annual Conference in Bournemouth. 15/10/2004: Tory MP Boris Johnson who edits The Spectator magazine where a leading article has accused Liverpudlians of wallowing in what they regard as their "victim status" over the murder of Ken Bigley and the Hillsborough football disaster in 1989.
Conservative Party leadership contender Boris Johnson, right, leaves his office in London, Monday July 22, 2019. Voting closes Monday in the ballot to elect Britain's next prime minister, from the two contenders Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson, as critics of likely winner Boris Johnson condemned his vow to take Britain out of the European Union with or without a Brexit deal.(Kirsty O'Connor/PA via AP)
New Conservative Party leader and incoming prime minister Boris Johnson gives a speech at an event to announce the winner of the Conservative Party leadership contest in central London on July 23, 2019. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo credit should read TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)
CORRECTING DATE Conservative party leadership contender Boris Johnson arrives at his office in central London, Tuesday July 23, 2019. Britain’s governing Conservative Party is set to reveal the name of the country’s next prime minister later Tuesday, with Brexit champion Boris Johnson widely considered to be favourite to get the job against fellow contender Jeremy Hunt. (Yui Mok/PA via AP)
Boris Johnson arrives at his house in north London, after going for an early morning jog. The former Shadow Arts Minister and Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, was relieved of his position by party leader Michael Howard, after revelations about his private life were published in a tabloid newspaper.
Boris Johnson (left) joins the Save our Services campaign against health cuts at St, Mary's Hospital in Sidcup, Kent.
Boris Johnson pictured with members of the Genesis Mas band, who will be performing at the Notting Hill Carnival this weekend, at Potters Fields in central London.
Boris Johnson MP (centre) and editor of the Spectator at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts during a visit to the city to apologise for remarks made in his magazine about beheaded hostage Ken Bigley and the Hillsborough tragedy. But council leaders called on the people of Liverpool to ignore the "Boris Johnson show". The Tory MP for Henley created a storm of protest after the publication of a leader written in the Spectator, which suggested Liverpudlians were "hooked on grief".
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Retired Formula 1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen (right) and current Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton (left) join Mayor of London Boris Johnson in backing an anti-drink-drive campaign at Potters Fields Park in London.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (left) and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov during a press conference following their meeting in Moscow.
Conservative Party leader David Cameron congratulates Boris Johnson on becoming London Mayor at Tory HQ in central London.
Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson gestures while delivering his speech during a Conservative leadership hustings at ExCel Centre in London, Wednesday, July 17, 2019. The two contenders, Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson are competing for votes from party members, with the winner replacing Prime Minister Theresa May as party leader and Prime Minister of Britain's ruling Conservative Party. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
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Boris Johnson remains the clear favourite to take over from Theresa May.
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LONDON — Britain's governing Conservative Party is set to reveal Tuesday the identity of the country's next prime minister, with Brexit hardliner Boris Johnson the strong favourite to get the job.Party officials will announce whether Johnson or rival Jeremy Hunt has won a ballot of about 160,000 Conservative members.The winner replaces Theresa May, who announced her resignation last month, and will officially become prime minister on Wednesday.It will be a huge upset if the winner is not Johnson, a former London mayor who has wooed Conservatives by promising to succeed where May failed and lead the U.K. out of the European Union on the scheduled date of Oct. 31 — with or without a divorce deal.Several Conservative ministers have already announced they will resign to fight any push for a "no-deal" Brexit, an outcome economists warn would disrupt trade and plunge the U.K. into recession. Fears that Britain is inching closer to a "no-deal" Brexit weighed on the pound once again Tuesday. The currency was down another 0.3 per cent at $1.2441 and near two-year lows.May stepped down after Britain's Parliament repeatedly rejected the withdrawal agreement she struck with the 28-nation bloc. Johnson insists he can get the EU to renegotiate — something the bloc insists it will not do.If not, he says Britain must leave the EU on Halloween, "come what may."Hunt has also vowed to leave the EU with or without a deal, so whoever wins Britain faces a volatile political showdown over Brexit. The new prime minister will preside over a House of Commons in which most members oppose leaving the EU without a deal, and where the Conservative Party lacks an overall majority.__Follow AP's full coverage of Brexit and the Conservative Party leadership race at: https://www.apnews.com/BrexitJill Lawless, The Associated Press
Boris Johnson, who is expected to win the Conservative leadership contest and become the next prime minister, possesses a propensity for gaffes which has infuriated his colleagues and former boss, Theresa May.During his time as foreign secretary they led to repeated calls for his resignation.Here The Independent looks back at Mr Johnson’s most damaging and humiliating blunders at the helm of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office – and beyond. ‘Slip of the tongue’ on Iranian detentionDuring a 2017 select committee hearing the then-foreign secretary erroneously said Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe – still detained in Iran – was training journalists in the region. After Mr Johnson’s comments the 38-year-old Briton was hauled in front of an Iranian court and told her sentence could double.He later faced calls to resign and issued an apology 12 days after his remarks. But his cabinet colleague Liam Fox had insisted that people should not overreact to “slips of the tongue”. ‘Casual’ rule-breakingMr Johnson broke Commons rules by failing to declare a financial interest in a property within the mandated time limit. The Commons Standards Committee accused him of displaying “an over-casual attitude towards obeying the rules of the house”.The ruling came in April, just four months after the Ruislip MP was made to apologise for breaching the rules by failing to declare more than £52,000 of outside earnings. Crude remarks on child abuse investigationsComments Mr Johnson made about police probes into historical child abuse allegations during a radio interview sparked immediate condemnation.He said money spent on the investigations had been “spaffed up the wall” and would have been better used putting officers on the street. ‘Letter box’ comment about niqab wearersMs May publicly rebuked Mr Johnson in August 2019 after he compared women wearing burqas and niqabs to letter boxes.In a column for the Daily Telegraph – a weekly commitment that earns him some £275,000 a year – Mr Johnson described the garments as oppressive, adding it was “absolutely ridiculous” that people should “choose to go around looking like letter boxes”.Mr Johnson said some restrictions on wearing them were “sensible” but that he opposed a Denmark-style full ban in public places and claimed: “One day, I am sure, they will go.”He wrote: “If a constituent came to my MP’s surgery with her face obscured, I should feel fully entitled … to ask her to remove it so that I could talk to her properly.“If a female student turned up at school or at a university lecture looking like a bank robber then ditto: those in authority should be allowed to converse openly with those that they are being asked to instruct,” he wrote. Libya ‘dead bodies’ remarkAt the Conservative Party conference in October 2017 Mr Johnson was widely condemned after claiming the Libyan city of Sirte would have a bright future as a luxury resort once investors “cleared the dead bodies away”.Asked about a recent visit to Libya, where fighting still continues eight years after Muammar Gaddafi’s fall, he praised the “incredible country” with “bone-white sands”.He added: “There’s a group of UK business people, some wonderful guys who want to invest in Sirte on the coast, near where Gaddafi was captured and executed.“They have got a brilliant vision to turn Sirte into the next Dubai. The only thing they have got to do is clear the dead bodies away.” Describing Africa as ‘that country’Reflecting on his first three months in the job at the Tories’ 2016 conference Mr Johnson referred to Africa as “that country”, while painting the world a “less safe, more dangerous and more worrying” place than it had been a decade prior.Mr Johnson appeared to suggest the continent could benefit from adopting more British values, warning that a number of leaders were instead becoming more authoritarian.And he then said: “Life expectancy in Africa has risen astonishingly as that country has entered the global economic system.” Losing the no-deal argumentA second showing for Mr Johnson’s Telegraph column. In April 2019 the Independent Press Standards Organisation said the ex-foreign secretary had breached accuracy rules by claiming that polls showed a no-deal Brexit was more popular “by some margin” than Theresa May’s deal or staying in the EU.The paper argued it was “clearly comically polemical, and could not be reasonably read as a serious, empirical, in-depth analysis of hard factual matters”, but the watchdog ruled against it. Dram drama in BristolWhile foreign secretary he was berated at a Sikh temple in Bristol for talking about increasing whisky exports to India – despite alcohol being forbidden in the Sikh faith.A BBC recording captured a female worshipper asking him: “How dare you talk about alcohol in a Sikh temple?”. Mr Johnson apologised. Don’t mention the warDuring a visit to India early in 2017 Mr Johnson appeared to accuse the European Union of wanting to inflict Nazi-style “punishment beatings” on the UK because of Brexit.He said: “If [former French president Francois] Hollande wants to administer punishment beatings to anybody who seeks to escape [the EU], in the manner of some World War Two movie, I don’t think that is the way forward, and it’s not in the interests of our friends and partners.“It seems absolutely incredible to me that, in the 21st century, member states of the EU should be seriously contemplating the reintroduction of tariffs or whatever to administer punishment to the UK.” Tone deafness, colonial-styleBritain’s ambassador to Myanmar had to stop Mr Johnson as he recited a Rudyard Kipling poem in the country’s most sacred temple.The poem is written through the eyes of a retired British serviceman in what was then known as Burma, which Britain ruled between 1824 and 1948, and also references kissing a local girl.Campaigners called the September 2017 gaffe “stunning”. Mr Johnson had also referred to a golden statue in the Shwedagon Padoga temple as a “very big guinea pig” shortly before launching into verse.As he recited the poem video showed the British ambassador to the country, Andrew Patrick, growing visibly tense.When the then-foreign secretary reached the poem’s third line – “the wind is in the palm trees ... the temple bells they say” – Mr Patrick decided to interject. “You’re on-mic,” he said. “Probably not a good idea.”Mr Johnson replied: “What, The Road to Mandalay?”“No,” the ambassador said, “not appropriate.” Prosecco row bubbles overIn November 2016 Mr Johnson was mocked by European ministers following a bizarre argument about whose country would sell more prosecco or fish and chips post-Brexit. Italy’s economic minister Carlo Calenda said Mr Johnson’s approach appeared to be based on “wishful thinking”.“He basically said: ‘I don’t want free movement of people but I want the single market,’” Mr Calenda told Bloomberg. “I said: ‘No way.’ He said: ‘You’ll sell less prosecco.’ I said: ‘OK, you’ll sell less fish and chips, but I’ll sell less prosecco to one country and you’ll sell less to 27 countries.’ Putting things on this level is a bit insulting.”The row took place after Mr Johnson described suggestions that free movement of people was among the EU’s founding principles as “bollocks”. ‘Backie’ backlashA blast from the past. While mayor of London Mr Johnson was filmed breaking the law by giving his then-wife Marina Wheeler a lift on the back of his bike.National cycling charity CTC said he “should have known better”.Mr Johnson apologised through a spokesman after it emerged he had breached Section 24 of the Road and Traffic Act 1998. Offenders can ordinarily expect a £200 fine for committing the error.
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Boris Johnson MP and editor of the Spectator magazine arrives at Claridges Hotel in London, where he is hosting the 'Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year' Awards. 13/11/2004 Boris Johnson who was Saturday November 13 2004, sacked from the Conservative frontbench amid fresh allegations about his private life, a spokesman for Tory leader Michael Howard said.
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Leader of the Conservative Party David Cameron (2nd right) with Mayor of London Boris Johnson (2nd left) as they celebrate St George's day in Leadenhall Market in the City of London.
Boris Johnson and TV star Kelly Brook launch the Mayor of London's Skyride, Peter's Hill steps, London.
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