British Chancellor Sajid Javid resigned. Prime Minister Johnson had tied conditions that the Treasury would remain in office that the Treasury refused to accept.
The British media had predicted a reshuffle in the cabinet and cited sources in the Prime Minister’s office. Some prominent ministers would have to leave, but the personnel changes would primarily affect lower batches because Boris Johnson wanted to offer promising politicians a springboard for later promotion to the cabinet. Farsighted planning should be the guiding principle of the first government reshuffle since the triumphal victory of the Prime Minister in December, not headline-breaking layoffs. But it turned out quite differently: on Thursday afternoon it was announced that Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid, the second most important cabinet member, had resigned in anger.
More and more power for the chief adviser
Javid had only been finance minister for seven months and was due to present his first budget in a month. Johnson had recently announced that he would keep his post. But there had been tensions between him and the Chancellor of the Treasury, as they are in the nature of the office. The prime minister wants to spend money – especially someone like Johnson, who has to prove his creative urge. The sack master, on the other hand, looks at accounting – especially someone like Javid, who has worked his way up from an immigrant family and has had a career as a bank manager. Javid’s neighborhood has been spreading rumors of upcoming tax adjustments in recent weeks, such as the withdrawal of tax relief for private pension capital. She would meet better-off British people.
The trial balloons from the Chancellor’s Office apparently annoyed Johnson’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, to such an extent that he faced a power struggle. As was announced after the scandal, Johnson had offered Javid the morning to stay on the condition that he would fire his advisors. According to media reports, Cummings ’plan is to unite the advisory teams of the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a team under his command. Javid is said to have replied to Johnson that no self-respecting minister could accept such an offer. The multiple millionaire does not need a ministerial salary.
As Javid’s successor, Johnson appointed Rishi Sunak, previously Chief Secretary of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and de facto his deputy. The son of a doctor of Indian descent, like Javid, has had a career as a banker. He was one of the up-and-coming politicians from ethnic minority groups who had been promoted to the Tory Party a decade ago in order to modernize its image. Sunak has represented a rural constituency in Yorkshire since 2015. The 39-year-old was predicted to have a great career, but no one suspected that it would happen so quickly. Sunak agreed to a joint pool of advisors in Cummings ’condition. The revirement therefore results in an additional centralization of power in the prime ministerial office – whether this is good for the government in the long run is open.
Eligible Northern Ireland Minister dismissed
If Javid’s departure happened unintentionally, another change was obviously planned. Johnson dismissed the former Northern Ireland minister, Julian Smith, although he enjoyed the trust of all Northern Ireland parties and the government in Dublin – for a Tory this alone is rare. Smith succeeded where his predecessors had failed. He implemented overdue social reforms in the province against the will of the Unionists, and last month in tough negotiations with Unionists and nationalists, he managed to get Northern Irish politicians to an agreement and resume their work in the Northern Irish regional government after a three-year hiatus.
The dismissal is surprising and looks deep. Smith had approached the left-wing Sinn Fein party in the negotiations with the promise that the prosecution of human rights crimes by British soldiers during the Northern Ireland conflict would not be dropped twenty to fifty years ago. The promise was in contradiction to an election promise by the Torys. The fact that the Prime Minister is dropping the capable politician does not bode well for the political future of Northern Ireland. Given the strengthening of Sinn Fein, this should be subjected to new stress tests anyway in the elections in the Republic of Ireland a week ago.
One Housing Minister every year
Johnson also fired some prominent cabinet ministers and experts. George Eustice replaces Theresa Villiers as Minister of the Environment. In the Department of Commerce, former Development Secretary Alok Sharma succeeds Andrea Leadsom, a former Johnson rival in the race for party leadership. Robert Jenrick is to replace Esther McVey, the Minister of Housing, who has also been dismissed, and, like the Institute for Government, a think tank, is the tenth incumbent in the post since 2010. Continuity, notably in an office whose owner is one of the toughest crises coping in the country looks different.