Bru­tal John­son tightens grip as Javid forced out

• Res­ig­na­tion let­ter warns about in­flu­ence of Dominic Cum­mings • PM loy­al­ist Rishi Su­nak caps rapid rise to be­come chan­cel­lor • An­drea Lead­som, Ge­of­frey Cox and Ju­lian Smith among ca­su­al­ties

The Guardian - - Front Page - Rowena Ma­son Heather Ste­wart

Boris John­son has moved to seize con­trol over the Trea­sury in an un­ex­pect­edly bru­tal reshuf­fle that has forced out his chan­cel­lor, Sa­jid Javid, and paves the way for a post-Brexit spend­ing bonanza at the bud­get.

John­son staged the power grab over No 11 by is­su­ing an ul­ti­ma­tum to his chan­cel­lor to fire all his ad­vis­ers – a move that Javid later said “no selfrespec­ting min­is­ter” could ac­cept.

In his place, the prime min­is­ter ap­pointed Rishi Su­nak, Javid’s ul­traloy­al­ist deputy, who agreed to ac­cept a pooled unit of ad­vis­ers shared be­tween No 10 and No 11.

Javid’s exit comes af­ter months of ten­sions be­tween his team and John­son’s top ad­viser, Dominic Cum­mings, who had wanted more con­trol over eco­nomic policy and spend­ing plans. It marked the most dra­matic mo­ment in a ruth­less re­or­gan­i­sa­tion of the cab­i­net, with ar­dent Brex­iters brought in at the cost of min­is­ters per­ceived as be­ing dis­loyal or dis­obe­di­ent – si­lenc­ing doubts over Cum­mings’ con­tin­u­ing im­por­tance to the John­son project.

The changes – in which even suc­cess­ful min­is­ters who have stepped out of line, in­clud­ing the North­ern Ire­land sec­re­tary, Ju­lian Smith, and the at­tor­ney gen­eral, Ge­of­frey Cox, were re­placed – came de­spite ear­lier brief­ing that the reshuf­fle would be limited in scope and am­bi­tion.

Sev­eral White­hall sources told the Guardian that John­son and Cum­mings wanted No 10 to con­sol­i­date its grip over the Trea­sury and Cab­i­net Of­fice in preparatio­n for wider ma­chin­ery of gov­ern­ment changes in the next year.

In the short term the reshuf­fle is likely to mark a shift to­wards greater spend­ing and pos­si­bly tax rises in the bud­get, which is sched­uled for 11 March. Ear­lier this week a man­sion tax was floated, but some Tory MPs be­lieve a council tax re­vamp is more likely. The de­par­ture of the chan­cel­lor weeks be­fore such a ma­jor fis­cal event left the Trea­sury in shock and No 10 un­able to con­firm the bud­get would def­i­nitely go ahead that day.

John­son’s spokesman was also eva­sive about whether Javid’s fis­cal rules promis­ing to bal­ance the books on dayto-day spend­ing by the mid­dle of the par­lia­ment would re­main in place, al­though he ac­knowl­edged they were part of the Tory elec­tion man­i­festo.

Speak­ing out­side his house, Javid told re­porters it was the prime min­is­ter him­self who had tried to clear out his ad­vis­ers, not

Cum­mings. “I was un­able to ac­cept those con­di­tions,” he said. “I don’t be­lieve any self-re­spect­ing min­is­ter would ac­cept such con­di­tions, so there­fore I felt the best thing to do was to go.”

Down­ing Street sources in­sisted John­son had sin­cerely wanted Javid to stay on and sug­gested the “spad unit” was a way of min­imis­ing fric­tion be­tween 10 and 11 Down­ing Street, and avoid­ing the kind of ten­sions that ham­pered the Blair gov­ern­ment. “You ei­ther go the Blair and Brown way, or you do the Ge­orge and Dave way,” said a source – re­fer­ring to the close re­la­tion­ship be­tween Ge­orge Os­borne and David Cameron, who shared an of­fice in op­po­si­tion and took the same ap­proach into gov­ern­ment in 2010.

No 10 of­fi­cials were par­tic­u­larly ir­ri­tated by what they re­garded as a ham-fisted brief­ing about the HS2 de­ci­sion by Javid’s team, which ap­peared to play up the chan­cel­lor’s role in ap­prov­ing the project, and pre-empted an of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment by the prime min­is­ter. It is un­der­stood Javid was told most of his cur­rent ad­vis­ers would not be con­sid­ered for roles in the new team, be­cause No 10 be­lieved they had given him poor ad­vice.

Robert Buck­land, the jus­tice sec­re­tary, was also told he must fire one of his aides if he wanted to keep his job, and chose to let the ad­viser go while re­main­ing in post. How­ever, Javid de­cided to stand by his five aides, af­ter pre­vi­ously en­dur­ing the hu­mil­i­a­tion of Cum­mings fir­ing his press sec­re­tary, So­nia Khan, last year on sus­pi­cion of leak­ing, with­out in­form­ing him first. Khan de­nied leak­ing and was es­corted out of No 10 af­ter re­fus­ing to hand over her phone to Cum­mings.

Javid’s res­ig­na­tion let­ter to John­son con­tained a num­ber of part­ing shots at the No 10 op­er­a­tion, in­clud­ing a veiled warn­ing about the in­flu­ence of Cum­mings. He is­sued a plea for the Trea­sury to re­tain its “cred­i­bil­ity”, and said lead­ers needed to have “trusted teams that re­flect the char­ac­ter and in­tegrity that you would wish to be as­so­ci­ated with”.

Javid also stressed the need for prime min­is­ters to be able to re­ceive “can­did and frank ad­vice”, in a sug­ges­tion that some of John­son’s new loy­al­ist ap­point­ments may not be ca­pa­ble of pro­vid­ing that.

The num­ber of women in cab­i­net fell from seven to six out of 22, with the Lib Dems say­ing it was “un­be­liev­able that Boris John­son has man­aged to find a way to make his cab­i­net even more male-dom­i­nated”.

Black and mi­nor­ity eth­nic cab­i­net min­is­ters dropped from four to three out of 22, and the two min­is­ters from a Muslim back­ground – Javid and Nus­rat Ghani – both left the gov­ern­ment.

The Sut­ton Trust found that 62% of John­son’s cab­i­net went to fee-pay­ing schools against 64% pre­vi­ously, with 31% going to a fee-pay­ing school and then Oxbridge.

John­son cleared out other cab­i­net min­is­ters con­sid­ered in­suf­fi­ciently obe­di­ent, in­clud­ing Smith, Cox and An­drea Lead­som, the business sec­re­tary. Smith had an­gered No 10 over his Brexit stance and deal to al­low sol­diers to be pros­e­cuted for Trou­bles crimes, while Cox was con­sid­ered not enough of a team player. Lead­som had caused an­noy­ance by writ­ing a piece for the Tele­graph stress­ing the im­por­tance of guard­ing against a “male-dom­i­nated en­vi­ron­ment” in the work­place.

Sev­eral prom­i­nent Brex­iters got top jobs. Suella Braver­man was given the role of at­tor­ney gen­eral, af­ter crit­i­cis­ing judges for be­com­ing too po­lit­i­cal, and Anne-Marie Trevelyan, a scep­tic about the value of for­eign aid, be­came de­vel­op­ment sec­re­tary. Alok Sharma, con­sid­ered a John­son ally, got the job of business sec­re­tary and COP26 pres­i­dent in charge of cli­mate ne­go­ti­a­tions for the forth­com­ing sum­mit, de­spite hav­ing lit­tle ex­pe­ri­ence in the area.

Oth­ers to lose their jobs in­cluded Theresa Vil­liers, who was re­placed as en­vi­ron­ment sec­re­tary by Ge­orge Eus­tice, a sup­porter of Michael Gove. Oliver Dow­den, a for­mer ad­viser to David Cameron, was made cul­ture sec­re­tary, re­plac­ing Nicky Mor­gan, who was only in place tem­po­rar­ily as a peer.

Es­ther McVey was re­placed as hous­ing min­is­ter by Christo­pher Pincher, a for­mer deputy chief whip who be­comes the 10th per­son to hold that brief in 10 years. The job of chief sec­re­tary to the Trea­sury, who will play a key role in the spend­ing review, went to the for­mer Brexit sec­re­tary Stephen Bar­clay. James Clev­erly was re­moved from his job as Tory chair­man and put in the For­eign Of­fice, with his old job given to the rel­a­tively un­known Amanda Milling – a long­time backer of John­son who was on board with his first lead­er­ship cam­paign.

Apart from the chan­cel­lor, all the great of­fices of state re­mained in post and Ben Wal­lace clung on as de­fence sec­re­tary de­spite hav­ing been ru­moured to be in line to lose his job.

Sa­jid Javid said ‘no selfrespec­ting min­is­ter’ could ac­cept the PM’s terms for keep­ing his job

▲ Rishi Su­nak, who re­placed Javid, agreed to a unit of ad­vis­ers pooled be­tween 10 and 11 Down­ing St

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