Politics Latest: Patel's future in doubt after civil servant's bullying claims

Home Secretary Priti Patel
Will Patel be forced to resign as Home Secretary?

Priti Patel could be the next senior Cabinet minister to leave the UK government while in the US Joe Biden looks like the only Democrat who can beat Bernie Sanders, reports Max Liu...

"Keir Starmer, who’s 1.081/12 to become Labour’s next leader in little over a month, has called for Patel to explain herself to MPs on Monday and he will hope the government creates similar problems for itself in the next few years."

The big political news of the week in the UK concerns home secretary Priti Patel who's been accused of bullying by the most senior civil servant in her department. Sir Philip Rutnam, who resigned this week, said Patel orchestrated a "vicious" campaign against him and he plans to sue the government for constructive dismissal.

Many commentators and former civil service chiefs called Rutnam's statement "extraordinary" and "unprecedented" in Westminster history and the fall out puts Patel's future as Home Secretary in doubt.

Patel to follow Javid out of cabinet?

During the wild days of Theresa May's premiership, when barely a week passed without a resignation, you were able to bet on who would be the next cabinet minister to leave. If such a market existed now, Patel would undoubtedly be its jolly.

It's only just over a fortnight since Sajid Javid resigned as chancellor just two months after the Tories won a majority at the general election.

Now the government faces the prospect of having to make changes in two of the four great offices of state - the others being PM and Foreign Secretary - early in its term.

Government divisions create opportunities for Labour

The allegations against Patel are another sign that Boris Johnson's government is unlike any other before it and his premiership is starting to resemble the Trump administration in America which set new records for first term resignations.

When asked this weekend if the PM had full confidence in Patel, a Downing Street official said Johnson had "complete confidence in all of his cabinet."

That's not a ringing endorsement but the allegations against the home secretary reignite questions about Johnson's judgement. If Patel were to resign, it would be the second time she's quit the cabinet after she was forced to step down as international development secretary for lack of transparency in 2017.

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Keir Starmer, who's 1.081/12 to become Labour's next leader in little over a month, has called for Patel to explain herself to MPs on Monday and he will already be working on strategies to exploit the chaos in the Johnson's government.

Richard Burgon is the 75.074/1 outsider in Labour's deputy leadership contest but he reflected the hopes of many in the party today when he said: "(2019) was the Brexit election but the next one won't be."

If the Johnson government carries on tearing itself apart from within then Labour will have a chance of winning it.

Biden sets up two-horse race with win in South Carolina

In the US, the odds on Joe Biden winning the Democratic Party nomination for president have shortened to 3.7511/4 on the Exchange after he revived his campaign by winning the South Carolina primary.

Biden is 8.615/2 to be America's next president while the frontrunner in the Democratic race, Bernie Sanders, is 4.67/2, with the incumbent Trump 1.748/11.

The only candidate who can stop Sanders?

The former-vice president disappointed supporters in the early primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire but gave them hope by coming second last weekend in Nevada. Now he's gone one better with an emphatic victory which establishes him as the main challenger to Sanders 1.9520/21.

Paul Krishnamurty reported on the eve of the vote that Biden was rated a 90% chance to win South Carolina as the anti-Sanders vote united around the former-VP. This is the third time Biden has run for president - he previously stood in 1988 and 2008 - and yesterday was his first ever win in a primary.

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He will hope to build on that victory in the next two days before Super Tuesday (3 March), when 14 states and two other constituencies go to the polls in a key moment in the race to take on Trump in November's election.

Tuesday will be the first time Michael Bloomberg, who wasn't on the ballot in South Carolina, stands in a 2020 primary. The ex-mayor of New York entered the contest late but comes next in the betting at 8.27/1.

Pete Buttigieg 60.059/1, Elizabeth Warren 90.089/1 and Amy Klobuchar 690.00689/1 all struggled again in South Carolina and their odds indicate that bettors have written off their chances of winning the nomination.

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