British Finance Minister Sajid Javid surprised Boris Johnson and his Executive by resigning from his post, almost two weeks after Brexit and about a month before the presentation of the State Budget, on the 11th.
It wasn’t long before Downing Street announced the name of the replacement, Rishi Sunak, who since July 2019 was Secretary of the Treasury. Javid’s resignation comes at a time when the prime minister is imposing a governmental reshuffle – which has slaughtered five major figures and several minor ones -, which ended up triggering the rupture between Johnson and the head of Finance.
In order to carry out the reorganization – the most significant since the victory in the legislative elections last December – Johnson demanded that Javid dismiss all elements of his team of advisers and replace them with others, appointed by the Government, to which the minister objected. In addition, tensions were mounting between the head of finance and Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s strategist and adviser.
One of the most relevant episodes happened in September, when Sonia Khan, Javid’s aide, was dismissed, without notice, by Cummings, who ordered that her cell phone be removed and escorted by the police to the gate of government buildings.
About Johnson’s demands, says Javid: “No self-respecting minister could accept the conditions they wanted to impose on me.”
Another surprise of the remodeling is the replacement of the minister for Northern Ireland, Julian Smith, who only a few weeks ago had managed to reactivate the semi-autonomous institutions in the province, after three years of blockade (read box).
“Fair play” enough
In the fight against the changes, three more ministerial incumbents fell. These were the cases of Andrea Leadsom – Economia -, Theresa Villiers (Ambiente) and Esther McVey, from Habitação. It was of little use to them to be tough Eurosceptics, like the man who fired them.
Still, Leadsom was already something of a “dinosaur” on Johnson’s calendar, having served Theresa May, predecessor of the current prime minister.
But, allegedly, there is no way for the British to exercise fair play, regardless of the degree of implicit hypocrisy. For Leadsom, it was a “privilege to be part of consecutive governments for six years”, led by David Cameron, May and Johnson.
For her part, despite “regretting” the resignation, McVey guarantees that she will “continue to support” the Executive as a deputy.
Those on the government ship include Dominic Raab, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Jacob Rees-Mogg, Parliamentary Affairs; Priti Patel, Minister of the Interior, and Michael Gove, with the portfolio of the Council of Ministers.
Fall of “one of the best ministers”
The most talked about resignation in the government reshuffle that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson carried out was that of Northern Ireland Minister Julian Smith, who led the process of restoring the functioning of the autonomous Executive and Parliament in January, after three-year suspended due to lack of understanding between Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party. One of the personalities who spoke up is not even British. “In eight months, Julian helped restore the power shared in Stormont [Parlamento norte-irlandês], signed an agreement with us to avoid a physical border and promoted equality in marriage. He is one of the best politicians in the UK, “said Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland, Leo Varadkar.
Sajid Javid leaves and Rishi Sunak enters, who does not mind that Johnson imposes his advisers.
Brandon Lewis will replace Julian Smith, a minister who really delivered results.
Andrea Leadsom gives way to Alok Sharma, former secretary for International Development.
A staunch Eurosceptic falls, Theresa Villiers, a staunch Eurosceptic George Eustice.
Christopher Pincher is the replacement for Esther McVey, who spent six months in the ministry.