Chancellor Sajid Javid has sensationally quit after the prime minster ordered a cull of all of his Treasury advisors at the start of Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle.
Javid’s resignation – just three weeks before the budget – is the biggest shock of a day that has seen other leading Tories lose their cabinet posts in a reshuffle that further bolsters the power of the PM and his own special advisor, Dominic Cummings.
Chief secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak – the son-in-law of Indian billionaire NR Narayana Murthy – has already been installed as the new chancellor.
Javid was only appointed last summer and has repeatedly clashed with Cummings over spending restraints. The PM’s order this morning (Thursday) was clearly the last straw for Javid, with a source close to him reported in the Guardian as saying: “The PM said he had to fire all his special advisers and replace them with No 10 special advisers to make it one team. The chancellor said no self-respecting minister would accept those terms.”
No 10’s ‘jaw dropping move’ to ‘seize control of Treasury’
The Guardian reports the move as an attempt by “No 10 to seize control of the Treasury” while the BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said the Treasury is “no longer a rival department”, and added, “how many other government come under No 10 control” remains to be seen.
Former treasury official James Dowling describes Javid’s resignation as a “jaw dropping move” in the Telegraph, which elsewhere calls it a “sacking” of Johnson’s most senior minister who was “already known amongst some as Chino (Chancellor in name only).”
The New Statesman’s Stephen Bush warns: “in terms of the governance of the United Kingdom, [it is] probably the most significant development since the creation of the devolved parliaments in 1999.”
Bush says the new chancellor Sunak “is reported to have accepted the merger of staff across numbers 10 and 11 Downing Street” making Johnson, already “more powerful now than any British prime minister” as he is able to “concentrate power within Downing Street in a way we have not seen before.”
Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell said Javid’s resignation proved Cumming’s had “clearly won the battle to take absolute control of the Treasury and install his stooge as chancellor”.
New chancellor Rishi Sunak profile
Rishi Sunak – the son of a GP father and pharmacy-owning mother – was privately educated at Winchester College before reading PPE (philosophy, politics and economics) at Oxford and studying for an MBA at Stanford University, the Ivy League institution based in California.
He was first elected in 2015 as MP for Richmond (Yorks) and served as a junior housing minister for 18 months under Theresa May before being promoted by Johnson in July 2019 to chief secretary of the Treasury.
He is 39 and the UK’s second youngest chancellor of the last 100 years – George Osborne was 38 when David Cameron appointed him to the cabinet’s second most senior position (only behind that of PM).
His wife Akshata Murthy is the daughter of Indian billionaire businessman NR Narayana Murthy, and they have two daughters.
Sunak is described as a free-market champion and explained his motivation to get in politics, as coming:”From working in my mum’s tiny chemist shop to my experience building large businesses, I have seen first-hand how politicians should support free enterprise and innovation to ensure our future prosperity.”
The new Chancellor of the Exchequer will deliver his first budget in little more than three weeks.