CHANCELLOR Sajid Javid was forced out of Number 11 today after a bitter power struggle with Number 10 and Boris Johnson’s right-hand man Dominic Cummings, sending shockwaves throughout Westminster.
Sajid Javid’s resignation marks a massive victory for the Prime Ministers chief adviser Cummings in a bruising Whitehall power struggle that reportedly left Javid wanting Dom out of Number 10 when it appeared the Government would not get a massive victory in December’s General Election.
Mr Javid, who was first Muslim to hold one of the great offices of state, was axed after being told he could keep his job, but could not keep any of his five advisors.
Javid was handed the top post after Boris won the Tory leadership in what was seen as a reward for a strong performance in the early stages of the Tory leadership contest to succeed Theresa May before he was eliminated, but within weeks, he was at loggerheads with Mr Cummings – the mastermind of the successful Vote Leave campaign brought in by the new Prime Minister to head his No 10 operation.
The feud erupted when Mr Cummings summarily sacked Mr Javid’s special adviser Sonia Khan, accusing her of remaining in contact with her former boss, ex-chancellor Philip Hammond.
Mr Javid, who was not informed in advance, was said to have been furious at the move, seen as a blatant power play by Mr Cummings.
It set the pattern for an increasingly fraught relationship between the two men with markedly different visions for the direction the Government should be taking.
While Mr Cummings was said to be keen to cast off spending constraints with extra cash for the police and the NHS, Mr Javid – an orthodox Thatcherite – was determined to keep control of the public finances.
The rift only deepened when Mr Johnson returned to No 10 after December’s general election victory promising to “level up” for the North and Midlands, where the Tories demolished Labour’s hitherto impregnable “red wall”.
It played out in press briefings, with allies of Mr Cummings coining the nickname “Chino” – “chancellor in name only” – for the occupant of the Treasury.
With the Budget less than a month away, he was reported to be working well with Mr Johnson, if not his top adviser.
Importantly, he was said to enjoy the support of the Prime Minister’s girlfriend, Carrie Symonds, who had previously worked for him as a Tory adviser.
He had even appeared to have scored a victory over his rival with the announcement that the HS2 rail link would go ahead – a project which Mr Javid publicly backed, while Mr Cummings was a longstanding critic.
In contrast, there were suggestions Mr Cummings’s influence was on the wane – with Downing Street briefing it would be a “conventional” reshuffle, rather than the far more radical Cabinet overhaul Mr Cummings was said to favour.
Certainly as he walked into Downing Street on Thursday morning – apparently to undergo the formalities of confirming his position – Mr Javid could not have appeared more confident or relaxed.
But behind the famous black front door, all that quickly changed.
According to his allies, he was presented with an ultimatum to sack all his special advisers and replace them with a team chosen by No 10.
It was a classic ambush bearing all the hallmarks of Mr Cummings. According to a friend, Mr Javid told the Prime Minister that it was an order which “no self-respecting minister would accept”.
MEET BRITAIN’S SHINING NEW BREXIT CHANCELLOR
BRITAIN has a new chancellor and he’s a Brexiteer called Rishi Sunak, the man who has been a rising star of The Conservative Party since he entered mainstream politics five years ago.
Sunak is the MP for Richmond in Yorkshire and was Mr quick to establish himself as a free thinker.
The Brexiteer produced a report on the merits of introducing free ports after leaving the European Union, a tax-break concept that Prime Minister Boris Johnson cherry-picked for his own leadership campaign.
Mr Sunak’s decision, along with high-flying colleagues Oliver Dowden and Robert Jenrick, to jointly back Mr Johnson during the summer leadership contest was seen as a major win for the former London mayor’s campaign, proving he had the young blood of the party on-board.
The trio wrote at the time: “Beyond Brexit, Boris Johnson is one of life’s optimists and can help us recapture a sense of excitement and hope about what we Conservatives can do for Britain.”
The PM was quick to reward Mr Sunak’s loyalty, making him chief secretary to the Treasury after entering Downing Street in July.
The level of trust placed in the Oxford University graduate was further demonstrated after Sajid Javid turned down the job of chancellor in the PM’s first post-Brexit reshuffle of his Cabinet.
It was Mr Sunak who was given the nod and promoted to one of the great offices of state in Mr Javid’s stead on Thursday.
At the age of 39, he misses out on being the youngest chancellor of the past century by just a single year – George Osborne was 38 when he took charge of the Treasury in 2010.
The eldest of three children and born into what he dubbed an “NHS family”, Mr Sunak’s father was a GP and his mother ran her own pharmacy, according to the biography on his MP website.
His grandparents were born in India and emigrated to the UK from East Africa in the 1960s.
Before entering politics, he had a successful business career, working as an analyst for investment bank Goldman Sachs before going on to work in hedge and investment fund management.
The private school-educated politician, explaining his motivation for getting involved with politics, said: “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.”
Married with two daughters, he met wife Akshata while studying at Stanford University in the US.
The Southampton-raised Cabinet minister lists his hobbies as keeping fit, playing cricket and football and watching films.
As a Hindu, he takes his Commons oath on the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred Sanskrit text.
Additional Reporting by PA Media