“Abdication of responsibility”: Labour slams scrapping of security minister post

Sienna Rodgers
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Update, 6.25pm: Damian Hinds has been appointed as the new security minister.

Labour has criticised the reported government decision to scrap the post of security minister and merge the brief into the Home Secretary role, with the opposition party describing the apparent move as an “abdication of responsibility”.

Conor McGinn, Labour’s shadow security minister, said: “This is a clear sign that the Conservatives don’t take the safety of our citizens seriously enough. Rather than Number 10 and the Home Secretary briefing against each other, Britain’s security should be the government’s number one concern.

“Getting rid of a specific, day-to-day, senior government minister responsible for security and counter-terrorism when Britain’s national security is under threat 24 hours a day, seven days a week is an abdication of responsibility.

“From the chaos in the channel to the Police Federation declaring no confidence in her. The Home Secretary is clearly struggling to deliver on her current responsibilities, it is unwise that she takes on an additional role.”

It was reported by The Times today that Priti Patel would be taking on the responsibilities of the vacant security minister’s brief permanently, after covering the role since James Brokenshire stepped down to focus on his cancer recovery.

A Labour source said: “Let’s hope she has more success with security than she’s had sorting out the Channel crossings, deporting foreign criminals, reducing serious crime and maintaining the confidence of the police.”

Brokenshire told Boris Johnson of his resignation in a letter on July 7th, citing “the frustrating recurrence of my lung cancer” and concluding that “it is best that I stand down from my ministerial role and focus on restoring my health”.

Labour’s McGinn earlier this week highlighted the failure to appoint a replacement, in response to an employee at the British embassy in Berlin being arrested on suspicion of passing information to the Russian intelligence services.

The shadow minister said: “Britain’s national security is under threat 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but the UK has not had a security minister in position for over a month.

“Following today’s events, it raises questions about who in government is overseeing the most serious task of keeping the British public safe and secure.

“It beggars belief that the Prime Minister has failed to appoint a replacement for James Brokenshire. He’s either forgotten or doesn’t think it’s important.

“This is just the latest security lapse from a Prime Minister and government that can’t be trusted with national security.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The Home Secretary is responsible for all areas of Home Office business, including those related to national security.”

The security minister job was created by Gordon Brown in 2007. It covers counter terrorism, serious and organised crime, cybercrime, hostile state activity, online harms, natural disaster relief and more.

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