Boris Johnson has praised US Open champion Emma Raducanu for showing “resilience under pressure” during her US Open final match. He also has shown resilience to back Priti Patel who has come under yet another allegation she broke the ministerial code.
During a visit to a British Gas training academy in Leicester, the prime minister told reporters: “I think it was stunning and I am sure, like everybody else, I watched the whole thing with my heart in my mouth.
“I couldn’t believe how hard they were walloping that ball.
“An incredible sort of resilience under pressure, that was what came through to me.
“There were so many moments where you thought the match was going to go the wrong way and then she held it together – it’s just fantastic. So, many, many congratulations.”
He was then forced to back his home secretary over allegations she breached the ministerial code, claiming she has done nothing wrong.
Labour accused Patel of being “reckless” and a “serial offender” in breaching the ministerial code after allegations involving a meeting between a billionaire Tory donor and British Airways.
It is alleged Ms Patel arranged a meeting on August 11 at Heathrow Airport’s Hilton Garden Inn, which is part of a chain owned by Tory donor Surinder Arora, in claims first reported by the Sunday Mirror.
Mr Arora – who is founder and chairman of the Arora Group – was at the meeting along with his son and Arora strategy director, Sanjay; Arora chief financial officer Carlton Brown; the chief executive of Dubai Airports Paul Griffiths; and BA corporate affairs director Lisa Tremble.
BA chief executive Sean Doyle was reportedly invited but could not attend.
But The Sunday Mirror reported there was no official from the Home Office present, as rules would dictate there should be if Government business was discussed.
The ministerial code states: “A private secretary or official should be present for all discussions relating to Government business.
“If a minister meets an external organisation or individual and finds themselves discussing official business without an official present – for example at a social occasion or on holiday – any significant content should be passed back to the department as soon as possible after the event.”
Mr Johnson was asked by reporters if Ms Patel had done anything wrong.
He said: “No – she’s doing an excellent job as Home Secretary and will continue to do so.”
But the reports will raise eyebrows after Ms Patel was forced to resign as International Development Secretary in 2017 after unauthorised meetings with Israeli officials.
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “The Home Secretary is a serial offender with no regard for the ministerial code. It’s time the Prime Minister took away her get out of jail free card.
“This secret lobbying lunch would break the rules three times over. She has serious questions to answer and must be investigated by the Cabinet Secretary immediately.”
Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labour’s shadow home secretary, added: “The Home Secretary is so reckless about her duties that it seems she takes part in meetings behind closed doors and without an official present.”