Priti Patel has resigned as home secretary after Liz Truss was confirmed as successor to Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.
In a letter to Boris Johnson, Patel said it had been the “honour of her life” to serve in the role but she would now “champion many of the policies and causes [she] stood up for” from the backbenches.
Her resignation comes as the controversial Rwanda deportation flights case reaches the High Court in London.
She confirmed her plan to resign as home secretary and return to the backbenches in a tweet on Monday.
“I congratulate Liz Truss on being elected our new leader, and will give her my support as our new prime minister,” her letter to Johnson said.
“It is my choice to continue my public service to the country and the Witham constituency from the backbenches, once Liz formally assumes office and a new home secretary is appointed.”
Patel had already courted controversy before she joined Johnson’s Cabinet in 2019.
In 2017 she was forced to resign as international development secretary by then-prime minister Theresa May over unauthorised contacts with Israeli officials.
Known for talking tough on crime and depicted by critics as divisive, she attracted attention years earlier for her views.
In 2006 Patel said she was in favour of the “ultimate punishment” for the worst crimes and, during a Question Time debate in 2011, supported the death penalty – although she has since insisted her comments were taken out of context.
During the course of her tenure, Patel has been accused of bullying staff; became embroiled in a war of words with France over tackling the growing numbers of migrants crossing the English Channel; was dogged by criticism from campaigners over a wave of sweeping immigration and asylum reforms amid accusations her policies were “anti-refugee”; and fell out of favour with the police amid a row over pay freezes.
In April, she signed what she branded a “world-first” agreement to send migrants deemed to have arrived in the UK illegally to Rwanda – a policy considered highly controversial among opponents, as well as some Conservatives, in light of concerns over the East African nation’s track record on human rights among other factors.
The first deportation flight – due to take off in June – was grounded amid legal challenges. The legality of the policy is being called into question in a High Court battle this week.