13 August 2021

I’m fully sighted on security issues, insists Patel

13 August 2021

Priti Patel said she is “fully sighted” on security issues, as the Home Office confirmed the Home Secretary has expanded her brief to take on the responsibilities of the security minister.

The Government has been criticised in recent days after failing to replace James Brokenshire as security minister, with the UK rocked by both a gunman’s killing spree and the arrest of a British national in Germany on suspicion of spying for Russia.

But Ms Patel has denied that a lack of a replacement for Mr Brokenshire, who stepped down on July 7 for health reasons, had made it more difficult for the Government to keep a grasp on potential threats, such as the online activity of the man behind the shootings in Plymouth, Devon, on Thursday.

Jake Davison, 22, killed five people, including a three-year-old girl, before turning the weapon on himself, police said.

The shootings took place only a day after it was disclosed a 57-year-old Berlin embassy security guard, named in British media reports as David Smith, had been arrested after he was suspected of working for Russian intelligence since at least November 2020.

Asked whether the failure to appoint a new security minister had hindered the Government’s ability to respond to such events, Ms Patel said: “I would say that that is absolutely not the case.

“I am the Home Secretary and I oversee these security issues, and I have been doing that throughout.

“I’ve been kept fully updated and on all issues, all incidences, including those types of issues and incidences that don’t even reach the public awareness and consciousness.

“I’m fully sighted and fully aware of everything that goes on.”

A Home Office spokesman confirmed that the Home Secretary’s remit included “those related to national security” in the wake of Mr Brokenshire’s resignation, following reports suggesting she will absorb the role permanently into her own.

The Times and The Daily Telegraph reported on Friday that Ms Patel would take over his brief permanently after covering the role for more than a month.

Home Office officials said there had been “no gaps” in the Government’s security knowledge since the post was vacated.

Shadow security minister Conor McGinn said the expanded role for Ms Patel was “a clear sign that the Conservatives don’t take the safety of our citizens seriously enough”.

He added: “Getting rid of a specific, day-to-day, senior Government minister responsible for security and counter-terrorism when Britain’s national security is under threat 24 hours a day, seven days a week is an abdication of responsibility.

“From the chaos in the Channel to the Police Federation declaring no confidence in her, the Home Secretary is clearly struggling to deliver on her current responsibilities – it is unwise that she takes on an additional role.”

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