The Police Federation said it distrusts Interior Minister Priti Patel, ending an increasingly difficult week for MP Whitham.
On the one hand, this is the current sore of migrants’ crossings. No topic is of greater concern among conservatives — both inside and outside government, fearing that the perception that the government is not “in control” of its borders will help trigger a resurgence of a political party led or inspired by Farage, with dire consequences. for a Tory electoral perspective, or that Labor will find a way to turn the issue back in their favor. On the other hand, the Police Federation is outraged by the announced salary freeze for officers.
The reason Boris Johnson appointed Patel as Home Secretary, and partly the reason why she is highly respected among Conservative MPs, is because she managed to mend relations between the government and the police after the Theresa May era, in which May oversaw and a drastic reduction in the number of police officers, and an ambitious program of reforming their work. Right or wrong, most Conservative MPs believe Patel was a key element in their 2019 election success.
[see also: How Priti Patel became unsackable]
Both lines in the Home Office this week hit the heart of the Patel formula. Now, in the short term, the Home Secretary has nothing to worry about: there really is no one like Preity Patel on the government benches, Johnson cannot find a similar replacement, and in any case, she is popular among Conservative MPs, and not only in political reasons. She is good at cultivating followers in parliament: taking the time to get to know the MPs, sending them letters of thanks and doing all the usual tricks.
However, in the long term, the quarrels are of concern to the Minister of the Interior and the government as a whole. The quarrel with the Police Federation is the result of a very painful budget planned by Rishi Sunak. Large cuts in spending and more political controversy over them will become an increasingly prominent feature of politics as this parliament is depleted.
But Patel’s allies are right, fearing that the English Channel crossings pose a real threat to her, too, politically. Ultimately, the reason we have more English Channel crossings is an increasingly destructive global climate that creates a world in motion. The UK Home Secretary cannot really “control” this, and the big lie in recent years is that somehow you can do it. Perhaps the failure to prevent crossing the English Channel actually benefits the Conservatives, as it provides a constant background of helpful headlines about the people on the boats, allowing them to compete in the next elections for immigration and border control. But it can also mean that the government is gaining a reputation as a vocal powerless person: it seeks to talk about “hard” measures, but cannot implement them or keep its promises on this or any other topic in this regard.