COMMENT: Sajid Javid becomes victim of Downing Street power struggle
The Prime Minister wants more control. Express & Star political editor Peter Madeley explains why.
Back in November, during the election campaign, Boris Johnson took the highly unusual step of announcing one of his top team was certain be kept on should he return to Number 10.
Sajid Javid was doing a “fantastic” job as Chancellor, the PM told members of the CBI, before confirming that he wanted him back at the Treasury.
Less than three months down the line and Mr Javid has gone, resigning after the PM apparently insisted he sack his special advisors and replace them with officials chosen by Number 10.
The Bromsgrove MP, a former leadership candidate, is clearly furious, declaring: “No self-respecting minister would accept those terms.
Westminster has not seen such a shock resignation from the Treasury since Nigel Lawson quit Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet in 1989 – a decision that also came against a backdrop of a row over advisors.
But while Mr Lawson had form for rocking the boat in the period leading up to his departure, Mr Javid is considered to have been fiercely loyal to Mr Johnson during his short time in office. Indeed, Downing Street has gone to great lengths to get the message out that the PM harbours no ill feeling towards Mr Javid.
As is so often the case with Mr Johnson’s administration, the spectre of Dominic Cummings looms large over the whole affair. The PM’s chief string-puller has become such a dominant figure in Downing Street that when stories started to emerge of a rift between him and Mr Javid, the writing was on the wall.
Mr Javid took a strong line in refusing to cede influence over the running of his department, but there was only ever going to be one winner.
His successor, Rishi Sunak, is left with around three weeks to put together a budget that Mr Johnson has promised will “level up” the regions and nations of the UK.
It will be interesting to see how the highly thought of young MP deals with the influence of Mr Cummings.
As Mr Javid’s resignation shows, in the current Government the power lies very much with Downing Street.