SAJID FURY OVER PM KNIFING
Chancellor walks out after brutal Boris power grab
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