Arise, Sir Border Farce! Labour MP Chris Bryant is knighted despite leading charge against Boris Johnson as Home Office mandarin who led Channel crisis response is ‘rewarded for failure’

  • Permanent Secretary Matthew Rycroft has been given a New Years Honour 
  • He is accused of thwarting ministers’ attempts to stop illegal Channel crossings
  • Labour MP Chris Bryant who led criticism of Boris Johnson is also honoured  
  • It has sparked a row over ‘rewards for failure’ with MPs and Government sources 

The Home Office’s top mandarin receives a knighthood today despite being blamed for failing to tackle the immigration crisis and broken asylum system.

Permanent Secretary Matthew Rycroft is accused of thwarting ministers’ attempts to stop illegal Channel crossings and undermining the plan to deport migrants to Rwanda.

He is one of several senior civil servants caught up in controversy to be given gongs in the New Year Honours List, sparking a row over ‘rewards for failure’.

And Chris Bryant, the Labour MP who has led criticism of Boris Johnson, is also knighted, in what one supporter of the former prime minister called an ‘extraordinary’ decision.

Permanent Secretary Matthew Rycroft (pictured) is accused of thwarting ministers’ attempts to stop illegal Channel crossings and undermining the plan to deport migrants to Rwanda

One senior source said last night of Sir Matthew’s ‘outrageous’ knighthood: ‘This is just how the Civil Service works – rewarding a mandarin who has constantly undermined the Government in the pursuit of its goals.

‘Rycroft has always been part of the problem in the efforts to tackle the Channel crisis.

‘Handing him a knighthood is not only rewarding failure, it’s rewarding someone who blocked the elected Government’s attempts to secure Britain’s border.’

Sir Matthew, a long-serving diplomat who was paid £185,000 last year and received a bonus of up to £20,000, took over at the Home Office early in 2020 after his predecessor quit.

 Since last year, the Home Office’s top priority has been to tackle illegal migration but the number of people crossing the Channel in dinghies has climbed from 8,404 in 2020 to 28,526 last year

Since then the department’s top priority has been to tackle illegal migration, but the number crossing the Channel in dinghies has soared from 8,404 in 2020 to 28,526 last year and at least 45,000 this year, about one in three of them Albanian. The backlog of asylum claims has also soared to almost 150,000, up from just 48,000 when he took over.

Thousands of would-be refugees have been crammed into the Manston processing centre in Kent, where one man died from a possible diphtheria infection, while £6.8million a day is being spent on housing many more in hotels.

This year the Home Office has also been accused of being too slow to process visas for Ukranians fleeing their country in the wake of Russia’s invasion, as well as being blamed for hundreds of thousands of Britons having to wait months for new passports.

And Border Force staff have been on strike at a number of major airports and ports over the busy festive period. Grilled by MPs earlier this year, Sir Matthew said that ‘migration issues are probably the most tricky to deal with’ in his job and admitted: ‘There is nothing that the Home Office loves better than a good crisis.’

Sir Matthew refused to sign off the flagship Rwanda asylum deal in April without being given specific written instructions – known as a ‘ministerial direction’ from then home secretary Priti Patel

He refused to sign off the flagship Rwanda asylum deal in April without being given specific written instructions – known as a ‘ministerial direction’ from then home secretary Priti Patel.

Sir Matthew is said to have opposed a series of tough measures to deter Channel crossings, including closing a loophole in modern slavery laws that has been exploited by Albanians.

And he clashed with ministers by claiming that the head of the Passport Office working from home had ‘precisely zero bearing’ on the huge backlog of applications. Meanwhile, a mandarin who was sacked by Liz Truss on her first day in No 10 as she tried to take on ‘Treasury orthodoxy’ has received a prestigious honour in the first list to be signed off by King Charles.

Sir Tom Scholar is made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath. He was Permanent Secretary to the Treasury until September, when he announced that short-lived chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng had ‘decided it was time for new leadership’. And former Cabinet Secretary Lord Sedwill, who was forced out as Britain’s top civil servant by Dominic Cummings in his war on Whitehall, is made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George.

The most controversial award to an MP is likely to be the knighthood for ‘political and public service’ given to the new Sir Chris Bryant, chairman of the Commons standards committee

The most controversial award to an MP is likely to be the knighthood for ‘political and public service’ given to the new Sir Chris Bryant. He is chairman of the Commons standards committee, which last year recommended that former Cabinet minister Owen Paterson be suspended for 30 days for lobbying – a decision that prompted a botched attempt by then-PM Mr Johnson to rewrite disciplinary procedures.

Sir Chris was so outspoken in his criticism of Mr Johnson over Partygate – branding him a liar and a ‘wrong ’un’ – that he had to step aside from leading the privileges committee as it launched an investigation into whether or not the ex-premier misled the House.

Ironically, Sir Chris was recently accused of misleading the Commons himself, when the Speaker dismissed his allegations that MPs had been bullied and manhandled during a fractious vote.

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