Damian Hinds to be security minister after Johnson U-turn over Priti Patel

PM made last-minute decision not to give home secretary wide-ranging brief including counter-terrorism and cybercrime

Boris Johnson has made former cabinet minister Damian Hinds his new security minister, after deciding not to let Priti Patel take on the brief.

Less than 24 hours after the home secretary was reported to be adding security to her responsibilities, No 10 made an official announcement that Hinds would take the job.

Johnson decided to announce the appointment the day after a gunman shot five people in Plymouth in the worst shooting incident on UK soil since 2010.

Earlier in the week, German police arrested a UK national employed at the embassy in Berlin on suspicion of spying for Russia, and there have been warnings that the west could face new terror threats following the Taliban advance in Afghanistan.

A Tory source said Patel had been lined up to take on the brief, but that there had been a “change of plan”. However, another government source hinted it had never been a done deal for the home secretary to take on the job.

Hinds is a former education secretary, who served in Theresa May’s government, and was once tipped as a potential prime minister by Michael Gove and Nick Timothy, the former co-chief of staff to May.

The security brief became vacant after James Brokenshire left the portfolio last month, telling Boris Johnson that his recovery from lung cancer treatment was “taking longer than anticipated” after a resurgence of the illness he was diagnosed with two years ago.

The shadow security minister, Conor McGinn, had said it “beggared belief” that the role had not been filled five weeks on, given the security challenges facing the government.

The security minister brief outlined on the government’s website is extensive. Responsibilities include counter-terrorism, serious and organised crime, cybercrime, economic crime, hostile state activity, extradition, and royal and VIP protection.

It also covers online harms; the common travel area between the UK, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands; aviation and maritime security; Grenfell; and flooding, hurricane, and natural disaster relief.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the minister also oversaw the functioning of the domestic national security system, including MI5 and counter-terrorism policing, as well as the functioning of the serious and organised crime system, including the National Crime Agency, and cybersecurity.


Rowena Mason and Jamie Grierson

The GuardianTramp

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