“Some of my detractors are guilty of ignorance, stereotypes and prejudices”
She adds: “The Prime Minister [has been] saying to myself, ‘what kind of deadlines do you work on?’ And rightly so.
Ms Patel’s fears about likely criticism of the policy when it was announced were of course well founded. Labor described the Home Secretary‘s statement to Parliament on the plans last week as a ‘desperate and shameful attempt to divert attention’ from the Fixed Penalty Notice issued to Mr Johnson for a breach of the Covid rules in June 2020.
“This policy is impractical, unethical, exorbitantly expensive, and it will aggravate trafficking and human trafficking,” said Yvette Cooper, the shadow interior secretary. A Labor backbench MP has warned of the dangers of subjecting migrants to “an authoritarian regime with one person in power for 30 years”, and Sir David Normington, a former Home Office permanent secretary, called the plan “inhumane” and “morally wrong”.
Ms Patel says: “When you hear the critics start to stereotype, start to generalise, first of all, it’s very offensive. It’s deeply offensive – and it’s based on ignorance and prejudice, in part, in my opinion.
“I could call them lazy and sloppy characterizations, but in reality they are not. I think they are based on ignorance, stereotypes and prejudice. I have heard a lot about them in a short time after the announcement.
“I was in Parliament on Tuesday, and there are undercurrents, if I may say so, of sheer xenophobia, which I think is absolutely appalling… For others, who speak in a derogatory, derogatory way and prejudicial, ignorant of a country that is our partner, quite frankly [it] is offensive, but I also think based on ignorance.
Ms Patel appears to believe the BBC is guilty of some of these accusations, along with several MPs and campaigners.
Last week the Prime Minister denied saying the BBC was ‘tougher on asylum policy than Putin’, after being challenged by Sir Keir Starmer over alleged remarks made to Tory MPs. Sir Keir subsequently withdrew his claim.
But, when asked if she believed the plan had been heard fairly by the BBC, Ms Patel sat up and said: ‘Well!’, sounding like a director asked to give her opinion on one of his meanest students.
“I was interrogated by them last week [in Rwanda]. They had a traveling delegation with us. And I was quite surprised by the tone of the references to Rwanda.
“I’ve referred to the kind of undercurrent before, without really understanding the specifics, and without even acknowledging Rwanda’s resettlement work first and foremost, the background, and how recent it has been, and how the EU also funded this, even some details.
“From my point of view, it’s a shame. However, there will always be criticism, and we live in a free country, in a democracy, not everyone will like the approach of a Conservative government or a Conservative Home Secretary.
Ms Patel also alludes to the clashes with officials that punctuated her tenure as Home Secretary, suggesting her questions about drastic solutions, including tougher criminal penalties for those involved in human trafficking, have received an icy welcome.
“That’s when all the flags go up in government,” she said, giving an idea of the horrified reactions of officials. ” ‘Oh my God!’ she said, in her best impression of a modern-day Sir Humphrey, describing ‘strong inspirations’, before adding, with mock horror: ”Laws changing?’ ”
In comments leaked to an internal online bulletin board last week, one Interior Ministry staffer compared the conservatives to the Nazi regime while another described the Rwandan plan as “totally contrary to ethics” and asked if they could “refuse this type of work in violation of my own ethics?