It is no longer just a matter of putting Brexit above any other priority. Boris Johnson demands more from the members of his Government. He wants absolute loyalty to a personalist project that aims to turn the United Kingdom over the next decade. The long-awaited redevelopment of his Cabinet of Ministers, launched on Thursday, was to consist of a series of controlled surgical movements, but it has become an earthquake when announcing his resignation Sajid Javid, the Minister of Economy, 28 days before that the budgets were presented. Johnson’s honeymoon is over.
Javid, a Muslim of humble origins and a brilliant financial career, was one of the promises of the Conservative Party. He competed for the leadership of the training last summer, and Johnson decided to keep him in government, in the coveted position of Chancellor of the Exchequer (Chancellor of the Treasury, equivalent to Minister of Economy). He had his residence at 11 Downing Street, attached to the prime minister. In recent months, Javid’s clashes with the star and power adviser in the shadow of the Government, Dominic Cummings, have been increasing. Cummings misled one of the minister’s advisors and forced the entrance into the department of people not directly elected by Javid. The bridges have been broken just at the time when Johnson was to start implementing the great economic decisions of his mandate. It was a one-hour meeting on Downing Street, and the prime minister clearly established Javid’s terms. He had to get rid of his entire team of advisors and allow the number 10 (Johnson’s cabinet) to decide the new positions. Johnson sought the complicity reached at the time by David Cameron and George Osborne. And he didn’t get it from his current Minister of Economy. Javid did not accept the new rules of the game and threw in the towel. He will be the first chancellor of the Exchequer who leaves the post without having presented a new budget. The person in charge of doing so will be the Secretary of State of the Treasury, Rishi Sunak. During the campaign he appeared in a television debate to replace Johnson. His loyalty and desire to make a career (39 years) have led him to accept without hesitation that the next budget be prepared jointly with Downing Street and Economy.
Five peso ministers have received the news that they will no longer continue to lead their respective departments. The State Attorney General (with ministerial rank and seat in the Cabinet), Geoffrey Cox, has been among the first to receive the news. It was a fall announced. Cox maintained a bombproof loyalty with former Prime Minister Theresa May, but also with her own legal convictions. He resisted until the end to deliver to the Parliament the internal legal reports that he prepared for Downing Street on May’s Brexit plans, but when he was finally forced to publish them his immense doubts about the viability of the proposal were reflected. He was an extreme defender of the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union and has shown little resentment in his farewell letter to Johnson. A courteous exit camouflaged more of division than of cessation. “You will remember, when I introduced you to the act of launching your campaign for the leadership of the Conservative Party last summer, that I assured you would be a prime minister who would ensure that the Brexit process was conducted by politicians and not by officials,” he wrote Cox He will be replaced by Suella Braverman (39 years old), a conservative lawyer and deputy, a staunch defender of Brexit and who has aired on more than one occasion his reproaches to a judiciary “that practices an unnecessary intrusion into politics.” Braverman is completely in line with the wishes of the Johnson team to cut the wings of the British judges of the higher instances, who have begun to implement a constitutional interpretation of the laws that annoys the hard wing of the tories. The rumble of the Supreme Court that annulled its decision to suspend the House of Commons still stings to the prime minister.
Andrea Leadsom, who leaves the Ministry of Commerce, is also an ardent advocate of Brexit, but rivaled Johnson in 2016 and in 2019 for the leadership of the conservatives. On both occasions he only chose to retire after pressing the politician to secure a good future position. He was remarkably disloyal to May, and at the head of Commerce has not shown the firmness in the decision making that the prime minister’s team expected.
Julian Smith, the minister for Northern Ireland, has been a surprise. The efforts and determination to finally end the political blockade suffered by that British territory and impose unionists and Republicans a solution to refloat the autonomous government are attributed to him. Your relationships with the praetorian guard Johnson’s, however, were remarkably tense. His departure, lamented by many of the department’s senior officials, is a clear sign that loyalty is more important than efficiency in the Johnson Government.
Esther McVey leaves the Secretary of State for Housing because of the chaos that this department was experiencing, even though she was a great defender in Johnson’s party and a great believer in the need to turn the training policies towards the working classes that decided to give an opportunity for conservatives in the last elections of December 12.
The rest of the changes have taken place above all at the level of state secretariats, with the will to achieve a better balance between men and women and to fill the Government with young and loyal blood that has time to prepare for future remodeling.