News | Published February 13 2020

Sunak replaces Javid as chancellor

Sajid Javid has resigned as Chancellor of the Exchequer during Boris Johnson's first cabinet reshuffle since December's election

According to the BBC, and as reported by journalists at the time, Javid’s resignation was prompted by his refusal to sack his entire team of aides. According to a source from within the Treasury, “The prime minister said he had to fire all his special advisers and replace them with Number 10 special advisers to make one team. The chancellor said no self-respecting minister would accept those terms.”

The announcement came as a surprise to many although rumours had circulated about growing tensions between Mr Javid and Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s senior adviser. These began in earnest in August 2019 when Mr Cummings sacked Sonia Khan, a special adviser to Mr Javid, without his knowledge and had her escorted out of Downing Street by an armed policeman.

The pair also clashed on their views of the future spending of the government, with Mr Javid urging fiscal constraint.

Many commentators viewed the move as a deliberate attempt from No.10 to regain full control of the Treasury. 

Ed Conway, the economics editor for Sky News, tweeted: “This isn't just [about] the removal of a Chancellor. It's [about] a No10 strategy to "take back control" of financial decision making. It's about killing or muffling the "Treasury view" that tends to recommend constraint rather than splurging. So it may have major fiscal implications.”

First appointed in July 2019, Mr Javid becomes the second shortest-serving chancellor ever and as his first budget was scheduled for 11 March, the first to not deliver a budget since Iain Macleod died in office in 1970.  He was also the first person from a Muslim background to occupy the post.

Born in Rochdale after his family had emigrated from Pakistan in the 1960s, Mr Javid later moved to Bristol where his father worked as a bus driver, a background he repeatedly highlighted during his unsuccessful leadership campaign in 2019. After graduating from the University of Exeter, he pursued a career in banking, rising up the ranks to become managing director of Deutsche Bank.

Mr Javid first entered politics in 2010 as MP for Bromsgrove, although he had always been aligned with the Conservative party and attended his first party conference at the age of 20. During the coalition government, he served as both economic and financial secretary to the treasury. 

Following the resignation of Maria Miller in 2014, he was appointed as culture secretary, a post he held until being moved to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in 2015.

Under Theresa May, Javid originally served as housing secretary before being promoted to the Home Office after Amber Rudd stepped down over the Windrush scandal.

Mr Javid will be replaced by Rishi Sunak, a rising-star of the Conservative party and former Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Mr Sunak was first elected in 2015 as MP for Richmond in Yorkshire. Prior to this, much like his predecessor, he had worked at Goldman Sachs before leaving to co-found an investment firm. Originally born in Southampton, Mr Sunak attended Winchester College, a prestigious public school, before studying philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford.

Mr Sunak campaigned to Leave during the EU referendum and voted for Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement every time it was put before parliament. He was also one of the first Conservative MPs to publicly support Boris Johnson’s campaign to become leader of the Conservative party and made a number of media appearances to support the future prime minister. He also stood in for Mr Johnson during ITV’s seven-way leaders debate ahead of December’s general election.

Arriving at the Treasury after his appointment was announced, Mr Sunak said he was “delighted to be appointed” and had “a lot to get on with.”

On the Opposition benches, Mr Javid’s resignation was immediately seized upon with various Labour figures who argued it showed a loss of control from the government. John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said: “This must be a historical record with the government in crisis after just over two months in power. Dominic Cummings has clearly won the battle to take absolute control of the Treasury and install his stooge as Chancellor.”

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Authored by

George Salmon
Political Editor
February 13 2020

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