“I am sure that if the Opposition want a security briefing from our colleagues, we will happily provide one, but I am very sceptical about how they treat and respect security advice.”

Priti Patel, House of Commons debate on Ukraine

March 1, 2022

Facts

Priti Patel said she is “very sceptical” of how the opposition “treat and respect security advice”, while discussing Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in the House of Commons. 

In 2017, Priti Patel herself was forced to resign from her role as international development secretary after holding unofficial meetings with the Israeli government.

In her resignation letter, Ms Patel said her actions "fell below the standards of transparency and openness that I have promoted and advocated".

Meanwhile, in 2019 the BBC stated that Theresa May repeatedly withheld sensitive intelligence from Boris Johnson when he was foreign secretary, because she believed he would leak the information.

The Prime Minister wanted the then foreign secretary not to be shown certain sensitive secret intelligence when he was appointed in July 2016, BBC News reported, citing multiple security sources.

Verdict 

There has long been a cross-party convention that the government of the day allows the intelligence services to give security briefings to the opposition during moments of national crisis. For example, Tory leader Iain Duncan-Smith received such a briefing ahead of the Iraq War. There is no recorded instance of such a briefing being abused, either by Labour or by the Conservatives when in opposition, and it was disreputable of Priti Patel to suggest that Labour could not be trusted. It also showed a breathtaking lack of self-knowledge since she had herself breached security advice when she abused her position as a cabinet minister to have private meetings with the Israeli government in 2017, without informing relevant British authorities. 

We approached Priti Patel’s office and the Home Office to give her a chance to comment, but received no response. 

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