Skin folk really are not always kinfolk. In her latest series of scams, current Home Secretary Priti Patel has been thrown into fresh embarrassment after being accused of smirking on telly in response to the consequences of a no-deal Brexit. However, what Priti’s face happens to be doing at any given moment should be the least of our concerns. A pundit for diversity in Boris’s cabinet, Priti has made a political career out of spouting rhetoric indistinguishable from her right-wing white male peers and questionable use of government funds.
She was elected Conservative MP of Witham in May 2010 after a career as a lobbyist. In recent years, she has found herself in the cabinet rotation of the flaming dumpster fire that is the Conservative government first serving as Employment Minister under David Cameron. A hard Brexiteer and anti-immigration advocate, Priti has suffered a number of greater political pitfalls during her career than her facial expressions. Here is a breakdown of all of the horrible things she’s said and done during her abhorrent, political career.
Former career and voting record
• Formerly employed by the PR firm Shandwick, she worked for British American Tobacco (BAT) notorious for funding the brutal Burmese dictatorship in the early 2000s and exploiting child labour in Nigeria.
• In 2013, Priti voted against same-sex marriage in England and Wales.
• She voted against banning the detention of pregnant women.
• In 2017, Priti was fired from her position as International Development Secretary (IDS) for conducting 14 off-the-book meetings with Israeli ministers and business people. She didn’t notify the PM at the time about these meetings causing her to lose the job. Israeli officials were undoubtedly interested to meet with her because she controlled some of the funding the UK gives to Palestinian organisations making the unofficial nature of these meeting even more egregious. There’s nothing like conducting a little freelance in foreign relations to prop up one of the notorious human rights abusers in the world.
• Before she left, however, Priti leveraged an £11bn aid budget as a trade incentive to make business deals with other countries in time for Brexit. It is illegal for the UK to explicitly use aid funds in this way, but that didn’t stop the former IDS from using the government funds to “further national interest”.
• Her legacy as IDS also includes using the same money to support big business and the comfortable middle class in foreign countries. She funneled hundreds of millions of pounds worth of the UK’s aid budget into corporate ventures. This includes setting up five-star luxury hotels and shopping malls in Nigeria and investing in Chinese online gambling and restaurant chains.
• She attended Ascot as a guest of one of the tycoons she met on her shady trip to Israel, reaping the benefits of cosying up to rich businessmen.
• As Home Secretary, she broke ministerial protocol for the second time by serving as an advisor for Viasat, cashing in a hefty £1000 an hour. The ministerial code states that former ministers have to consult the government advisory positions before taking up business appointments within two years of leaving the role. But hey, what’s a little corruption when you’re best mates with Boris Johnson?
• In a speech at the 2019 Tory Party Conference, the Home Secretary announced that she has a particular responsibility at this moment in time to end the freedom of movement of people. “Instead we will introduce an Australian-style points-based immigration system”.
• Priti is supporting the government’s right-wing immigration reforms, labelling immigrants who try to reenter the UK after deportation as “foreign criminals”. These new reforms include longer sentences for immigrants without papers. Priti has commented: “Deterring foreign criminals from re-entering the country and putting those that do behind bars for longer will make our country safer.”
• In the same speech, Priti declared that as a daughter of immigrants she needed no lectures from the “North London metropolitan liberal elite”. Political commentators have pointed out the coded antisemitic language used here garner support for anti-immigration reform. Nazi dog whistles aside, this comment weaponises her identity as a woman of colour to enact violence on black and brown people.
• From one dangerous tyrant to another, she compared herself to Margret Thatcher stating that if “you make the British people your compass, your direction will always be true”.
• In 2015 and 2016, she voted for stricter immigration policies. These include forbidding asylum seekers to work if their application takes longer than six months and restrict support for those whose applications were denied.
• A bedfellow of Theresa May’s hostile environment policies, Priti backed the immigration bills of 2014 and 2016 introducing the rent, work and bank account checks. This lead to members of the Windrush generation being wrongfully told they had no right to remain in the UK.
This piece is a part of gal-dem’s Bad Politicians series