Jeremy Corbyn says PM ‘covers up bullies’ as Johnson fails to answer key questions over Patel

PUBLISHED: 13:01 04 March 2020 | UPDATED: 13:33 04 March 2020

Home secretary Priti Patel and prime minister Boris Johnson during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons. Photograph: House of Commons/PA Wire.

Home secretary Priti Patel and prime minister Boris Johnson during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons. Photograph: House of Commons/PA Wire.

Boris Johnson has ‘no shame in defending bullying’ in his government, Jeremy Corbyn has said, after he failed to confirm if he knew about bullying allegations before appointing Priti Patel.

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Corbyn said the latest allegations that Patel bullied staff in a third government department would suggest a "shocking and unacceptable pattern of behaviour" if they were found to be true.

He urged the prime minister to release the findings of any investigation, adding: "A government cannot be judge and jury over its own conduct. There has to be an independent element to that investigation.

"Overnight, further allegations have emerged that the home secretary repeatedly harassed and humiliated her private secretary while she ran the Department for International Development.

"If this is true, this suggests a shocking and unacceptable pattern of behaviour across three government departments - on each occasion, tens of thousands of pounds of hard-earned taxpayers' money has been spaffed up the wall to buy their silence.


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"Was the prime minister aware of these allegations? And if he was, why did he appoint her?"

Johnson simply replied: "The home secretary is doing an outstanding job, I have every confidence in her. If there are allegations, of course it's right they should be properly investigated by the Cabinet Office and that is what is happening."

He added he would "take no lessons about bullying" from the leader of a party where "female MPs were bullied so badly in the manner of anti-Semitism they actually left the party".

Johnson said shadow chancellor John McDonnell has also still not apologised for repeating comments that Tory MP Esther McVey should be lynched.

But Corbyn questioned Johnson's choice of words in his response.

MORE: Priti Patel is 'on her way out', says shadow chancellor

MORE: Priti Patel faces fresh allegations of bullying

"The prime minister said 'if there are allegations' - is he completely unaware of all the allegations that have been made in the last few days?

"Is he completely unaware of the resignation of a permanent secretary because of his treatment by the home secretary?

"We have a part-time prime minister who barely turns up but is determined to cover up for bullies in his government.

"When his home secretary has been accused of repeated bullying and harassment, leading to hard-working staff attempting suicide by overdose, he gave her his full support.

"How can the people of this country have faith in a prime minister who can't be bothered to turn up, and when he does has no shame in defending bullying in his own government?"

Johnson replied: "That is a question from a full-time neo-Marxist who has failed to stamp out bullying in his own party."

He went on to defend thegovernment's record since the December election.

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