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PRITI PATEL was accused of avoiding scrutiny today after she refused to face a grilling from MPs over her job and policies — including deporting asylum-seekers to Rwanda.
The Home Secretary had been due to appear before the home affairs committee this morning but pulled out less than 24 hours ahead of the session.
In a letter to the committee on Tuesday afternoon, Ms Patel cited “changes in government,” particularly within her ministerial team, as the reason for not showing up.
“Regrettably, as a result of this and the wider unprecedented changes since I agreed to give evidence, I will no longer be able to meet with the committee tomorrow,” she wrote.
The Home Secretary was due to face questions from MPs on record-low rape prosecution rates, problems at the Passport Office and asylum and immigration policies, including the Rwanda deal.
The cancellation has sparked fury among MPs, with former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott describing it as “outrageous.”
“It took a great deal of trouble to get her to appear at all,” Ms Abbott, who also sits on the home affairs committee, told the Morning Star.
“This date was agreed months in advance and the reason given for why the Home Secretary cannot attend this morning — due to changes in the Home Office ministerial team — does not make sense as it was the Home Secretary giving evidence and not a junior minister.
“Cancelling at the last minute not only shows disrespect for the committee but that she does not take accountability to the public seriously.”
Ms Patel cancelled her appearance shortly after announcing she would not run in the Tory leadership race.
She requested the committee session be postponed to September.
However, committee chair Dame Diana Johnson has said she expects the Home Secretary to appear to give evidence next week as “the last available opportunity before the summer recess.”
In a letter to Ms Patel, the chair pointed out that she had decided to stay in her role as Home Secretary despite a wave of Cabinet resignations because she was “entirely focused” on the business of government and national security.
“We would therefore ask why, a week on, you now feel it is acceptable to avoid a key element of the role — facing up to much-needed scrutiny of that essential work,” she wrote.
“The ‘business of government’ absolutely requires scrutiny by Parliament.”
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