Allies of Priti Patel have accused the Foreign Office of leaking “bizarre and unworkable” asylum policies to discredit her.
Friends of the home secretary say that rivals in other Whitehall departments leaked Patel’s “blue-sky thinking” on how best to deal with asylum seekers crossing the Channel “to make her look stupid,” The Telegraph reports.
Some of the ideas the home secretary reportedly discussed included transporting refugees to Ascension Island in the South Atlantic, housing them on disused ferries and oil rigs, or even building a giant wave machine in the Channel to repel them.
A Conservative MP and ally of Patel told The Times: “It’s pretty obvious what’s happened here. By coming up with bizarre and unworkable policy options, then leaking them, the Foreign Office is attempting to discredit any and every solution to a problem which my constituents write to me about daily.”
Patel is being used “as a punchbag”, another government source insisted, adding “she’s being caught in the crossfire”.
”A lot of this stuff is coming from No. 10 but people are too scared to say it. People are so afraid of crossing Dom [Dominic Cummings, the senior adviser to the prime minister] that they are pinning it on other departments,” the source added.
Other allies of the home secretary told Politico that she was the victim of a “rotten core of civil servants who have never got over Brexit”, adding that officials “fear the hard rain that is coming. They’re the enemy within and will be rooted out”.
As the Whitehall blame game intensifies, Matthew Rycroft, the permanent secretary at the Home Office, confirmed that an inquiry has been launched to determine the source of the leaks.