Chan­cel­lor walks out af­ter bru­tal Boris power grab

Daily Mail - - Front Page - By Ja­son Groves Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

SA­JID Javid last night fired a part­ing blast at Boris John­son and Dominic Cum­mings af­ter be­ing ousted in a sav­age power grab.

in a show­down in the Cab­i­net room, Mr John­son told the Chan­cel­lor that he could stay in the job only if he agreed to sack his aides and hand no 10 ‘joint’ con­trol over eco­nomic policy.

Mr Javid chose to quit, telling the PM that ‘no self-re­spect­ing min­is­ter’ could stay on those terms. He is the first chan­cel­lor for decades to leave of­fice with­out de­liv­er­ing a Bud­get. ris­ing star rishi su­nak – a pop­u­lar fig­ure on the tory benches – takes his place.

in an an­gry state­ment, Mr Javid said he had been left with ‘no op­tion’ but to re­sign fol­low­ing Mr John­son’s ul­ti­ma­tum. He warned the PM against sur­round­ing him­self with yes men, say­ing it was vi­tal the trea­sury ‘re­tains as much cred­i­bil­ity as pos­si­ble’.

in a thinly veiled swipe at Mr Cum­mings, who clashed re­peat­edly with him be­hind the scenes, he urged the

PM to pick ad­vis­ers ‘that re­flect the char­ac­ter and in­tegrity you would wish to be as­so­ci­ated with’.

Mr John­son was said to be ‘sur­prised and dis­ap­pointed’ by his de­ci­sion to quit, which blew a hole in a metic­u­lously planned Gov­ern­ment reshuf­fle. In a day of Cab­i­net snakes and lad­ders: The PM sacked a string of vet­eran min­is­ters, in­clud­ing business sec­re­tary An­drea Lead­som, en­vi­ron­ment sec­re­tary Theresa Vil­liers and hous­ing min­is­ter Es­ther McVey;

For­eign Sec­re­tary Dominic Raab, Home Sec­re­tary Priti Patel and De­fence Sec­re­tary Ben Wal­lace kept their jobs;

For­mer Brexit min­is­ter Suella Braver­man was ap­pointed as At­tor­ney Gen­eral just weeks af­ter declar­ing it was time to ‘take back con­trol’ from the courts and judges;

For­mer de­fence min­is­ter, and arch-Brex­i­teer, Anne-Marie Trevelyan was pro­moted to the Cab­i­net as in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment sec­re­tary in charge of the £14.5 bil­lion aid bud­get, which she has pre­vi­ously crit­i­cised;

North­ern Ire­land Sec­re­tary Ju­lian Smith was sacked for al­leged dis­loy­alty over Brexit just weeks af­ter be­ing praised for over­see­ing the restora­tion of Stor­mont power-shar­ing;

Jus­tice Sec­re­tary Robert Buck­land, one of the few prom­i­nent Re­main­ers in the Cab­i­net, kept his job but his ad­viser was sacked;

The over­all size of the Cab­i­net was cut to 26 – six fewer than pre­vi­ously – and the num­ber of full Cab­i­net posts held by women fell by one to six, al­though Mrs Braver­man will also at­tend;

Michael Gove was given an en­hanced role at the Cab­i­net Of­fice, where he will over­see prepa­ra­tions for the end of the Brexit tran­si­tion pe­riod in De­cem­ber.

Mr Javid’s de­par­ture clears the decks for the PM to drive through a mas­sive spend­ing spree in his bid to ‘level up’ the econ­omy.

Friends of the for­mer chan­cel­lor sug­gested that Mr Cum­mings is the driv­ing force be­hind con­tro­ver­sial plans to hit the bet­ter off, in­clud­ing a man­sion tax and a raid on high­er­rate pen­sion tax re­lief.

Down­ing Street yes­ter­day re­fused to say whether the tight tax and spend­ing rules put in place by Mr Javid would re­main. The Bud­get could also be de­layed be­yond its planned date of March 11.

For­mer Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith last night pre­dicted Mr Javid’s de­par­ture would lead to a re­cast­ing of the Trea­sury’s spend­ing rules.

‘There will be fis­cal rules, but they will be rules that Down­ing Street set for them­selves to give them­selves wrig­gle room to do what they want,’ he said.

Down­ing Street sources in­sisted that Mr John­son made a ‘heart­felt plea’ to Mr Javid to stay dur­ing the tense meet­ing. The PM is un­der­stood to have told Mr Javid that he was the ‘best man for the job’. But he said he could not tol­er­ate the grow­ing brief­ing war be­tween No 10 and the Trea­sury.

Mr John­son warned there was a risk of the Gov­ern­ment de­scend­ing into a re­peat of the dys­func­tional BlairBrown years.

Mr Javid’s de­par­ture was seen in West­min­ster as a vic­tory for Mr Cum­mings, the PM’s chief aide. The two men have clashed over a string of is­sues, in­clud­ing tax and spend­ing, HS2 and the ap­point­ment of the gover­nor of the Bank of Eng­land. Mr Javid has never for­given the PM’s en­forcer for sack­ing his aide So­nia Khan last sum­mer with­out con­sult­ing him.

Mr Cum­mings has been in­fu­ri­ated by unau­tho­rised brief­ings from the Trea­sury in re­cent weeks and told the PM that the Chan­cel­lor’s aides had to go, set­ting up an ul­ti­ma­tum that saw Mr Javid walk out. One Tory source said: ‘It was a win-win for Cum­mings. Ei­ther the Chan­cel­lor ac­cepted the hu­mil­i­a­tion be­ing of­fered to him and sac­ri­ficed his independen­ce, or he quit and Cum­mings got to put the golden boy in.’

Friends of Mr Javid were scathing about the ap­point­ment of Mr Su­nak as Chan­cel­lor. One said: ‘There was lots of rub­bish about Saj be­ing “Chan­cel­lor In Name Only”. It was never true, but they’ve got one now.’

How­ever, for­mer Cab­i­net min­is­ter David Gauke said Mr Su­nak was in a ‘strong po­si­tion’.

He added: ‘Al­though there will be a lot of talk about him be­ing Boris John­son’s place­man, if he wants to as­sert him­self you could ar­gue that he is pretty well un­sack­able. If I was Rishi, I would be pretty determined to show that I was not a stooge, and demon­strate some independen­ce pretty early on es­pe­cially in his Bud­get.’

Un­der the new ar­range­ment, which Mr Su­nak has agreed to, eco­nomic policy will be drawn up by the Prime Min­is­ter and Chan­cel­lor as­sisted by a joint team of po­lit­i­cal aides based in Down­ing Street, not the Trea­sury.

Trea­sury sources pre­dicted Mr Javid’s re­moval could re­sult in Mr Cum­mings push­ing ahead with a spend­ing spree at the Bud­get. One said: ‘Cum­mings just wants to spend money, he’s not in­ter­ested in fis­cal dis­ci­pline.’

RE­CEIVED wis­dom among po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tors had it that yes­ter­day’s Cab­i­net reshuf­fle would be a muted af­fair – which should have set alarm bells ring­ing. In­stead, we were treated to an ex­am­ple of blood-let­ting wor­thy of Boris John­son’s beloved Rome.

The sev­ered head? That of Sa­jid Javid, Chan­cel­lor of the Ex­che­quer, sliced off af­ter he re­fused No10’s de­mand that he fire all his ad­vis­ers. A blun­der by the Prime Min­is­ter, who un­der­es­ti­mated Mr Javid’s re­solve? Or a con­trived sack­ing – an ul­ti­ma­tum the Chan­cel­lor was bound to re­ject?

What­ever the truth, the PM has ruth­lessly stamped his au­thor­ity on Gov­ern­ment.

He can ar­gue that his man­date, se­cured with an 80- seat over­all ma­jor­ity at the Gen­eral Elec­tion, is clear: To cor­rect the his­toric im­bal­ance in in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing be­tween North and South and bring hope to ne­glected com­mu­ni­ties. Such a task re­quires a uni­fied Cab­i­net and, cen­trally, a good work­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween No10 and No11.

That said, this de­sire for co­he­sion should not trans­late into a di­vi­sive, au­to­cratic style of gov­ern­ment. Mr John­son’s mer­cu­rial hench­man-in-chief Dominic Cum­mings has al­ready dis­played a taste for strong-arm tac­tics – and anti-as­pi­ra­tional poli­cies such as the man­sion tax.

Tra­di­tion­ally, the Chan­cel­lor has acted as a coun­ter­weight to the Prime Min­is­ter, ap­ply­ing the brakes when hubris­tic spend­ing promises threaten the na­tional fi­nances. But the Chan­cel­lor of the Ex­che­quer must be signed up to the project.

Mr John­son be­lieves that if he is to win a sec­ond term cour­tesy of the for­mer Labour voters he wooed in De­cem­ber he must spend. So he has no time for the cautious tac­tics that marked Philip Ham­mond’s re­la­tion­ship with Theresa May.

Rishi Su­nak, Mr Javid’s tal­ented lieu­tenant at the Trea­sury, and now his suc­ces­sor, may have to present his first Bud­get in a month’s time.

Fis­cally con­ser­va­tive, he will have the dif­fi­cult task of mar­ry­ing the Prime Min­is­ter’s am­bi­tions with eco­nomic re­al­ity. It will be a test of his met­tle and he will need to show he is not a neutered ten­ant of No 11.

Mr Cum­mings is an icon­o­clast, in­tent on dis­man­tling a scle­rotic sys­tem sti­fling our na­tional po­ten­tial. But this should not in­volve turn­ing the Trea­sury into an un­crit­i­cal satel­lite of an all-pow­er­ful No10.

‘If you must break the law, do it to seize power,’ said Julius Cae­sar. Mr John­son has dented the un­writ­ten law that the Trea­sury is a semi-in­de­pen­dent fief­dom, and in do­ing so has gained power by brute force. But it must lead to good gov­ern­ment.

The Prime Min­is­ter is primus inter pares – first among equals. Not an em­peror.

Quit: Sa­jid Javid in Down­ing Street yes­ter­day

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