RISHI Sunak has become the latest Cabinet colleague to rally behind the beleaguered Priti Patel following the bullying probe as speculation mounted she would be moved from the Home Office in a New Year reshuffle.

The aftershocks from the controversy continued to reverberate over the weekend and are set to continue today if Labour gets its way and forces a UK Government minister to the Commons dispatch box to answer questions about the affair.

On Friday, a summary of the long-awaited report by Sir Alex Allan, the Prime Minister’s independent adviser on ministerial standards, was published, saying Ms Patel had been guilty of bullying staff, albeit unintentionally, and that, therefore, she had broken the ministerial code; a judgement that usually means the minister resigns.

However, Boris Johnson stood by the Home Secretary, saying that in his judgement she had not broken the code with No 10 pointing out “mitigating factors,” namely, Ms Patel was unaware at the time that her conduct had upset people, departmental relations between ministers and officials had since improved markedly and the Essex MP had apologised. The PM is the final arbiter on what does or does not constitute a breach of the code. Following his decision, Sir Alex resigned.

The Secretary of State, who had always denied any wrongdoing, took to the airwaves to issue a “fulsome apology” to anyone whose feelings she had hurt, insisting that this had been “completely unintentional”. It was said that Ms Patel had shouted and sworn at staff.

Asked about the row, the Chancellor told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme: “I don’t think shouting is an effective way to get the best out of people. But it is necessary sometimes to be direct in order to drive progress in an organisation, particularly under stressful circumstances.”

Mr Sunak added: “On a personal level, I’ve worked closely with Priti and found her to be entirely kind and very focused and passionate about what she does.”

But Lucy Powell, the Shadow Business Minister, said it was “appalling” the PM had decided to back rather than sack the Home Secretary.

“Her position’s completely untenable, absolutely,” declared the Manchester MP.

“She’s been found by an independent inquiry of breaking the ministerial code and if you are found of breaking the ministerial code, your position is completely untenable. It’s appalling the Prime Minister has decided to back her instead of sacking her, and that’s what he should have done,” she told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday.

It is thought that as part of the so-called Government “reset,” the PM is looking in the New Year to undertake a Cabinet reshuffle. Ms Patel could be moved from the Home Office to the party chairmanship, which would be a demotion.

Michael Gove, currently the Cabinet Office Minister, a role he has described as the PM’s “gofer,” has been tipped as a possible replacement for Ms Patel should she be moved. There has also been speculation that Jeremy Hunt, the former Foreign Secretary, who lost out to Mr Johnson in the Tory leadership race last year, could make a return to the frontline. He currently chairs the Commons Health Committee.