Priti Patel expressed her extreme “disappointment” at the accusations of Yvette Cooper during an interview on talkRADIO. Ms Cooper claimed the Home Secretary refused to appear before the Home Affairs Committee to be quizzed on her department’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. In turn, Ms Patel has condemned the Labour MP, who is the Chair of said committee.
When asked about the row on talkRADIO, the Home Secretary said: “I’ve actually offered the Chair of the committee regular briefings throughout this pandemic.
“That includes access to classified and operational material, which myself and ministers obviously see.
“So I think it’s a bit disappointing at the time of a crisis, when I’ve already offered a date as well, that there’s a bit of politicking going on.
“The fact of the matter is when you look at the work of the Home Office across this whole period of the pandemic, I think a lot of it is self-evident.”
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Ms Cooper claims the Home Secretary has refused to appear before the Home Affairs Comittee.
She continued: “Ranging from making it cost-free for people to call the police through 101 service through to the extension of NHS visas to various things that we’ve been doing on fraud, cyber, national security, policing every single day and the real support we’re giving to the frontline.
“I quite frankly think it’s a bit of politicking at a time when we have already given and offered access to the select committee.
“Not just the Chair, but the entire committee were offered access to the department and myself in terms of another date.
“I think it’s just politics basically.”
Ms Cooper reportedly first wrote to the Home Secretary on March 6 calling on her to appear before the committee.
The group had already taken evidence from police chiefs and immigration staff about the way the Home Office is handling the pandemic.
In a follow-up letter on March 20, the Chair said she had “received no response” from Ms Patel, and emphasised that it was “urgent and essential” that they hear from her.
In her talkRADIO interview, the Home Secretary also answered whether she was considering implementing tougher lockdown restrictions.
She said: “Absolutely not. I’d really like to pay tribute to the majority of the British people who have been doing the right thing.
“The police will always use a common-sense approach.
“We have policing by consent in the United Kingdom, the police are part of our local fabric in our community.
“That is crucial in the way they engage, explain and encourage members of the public to do the right thing.”