Westminster in chaos as finance minister quits

Sajid David

Sajid Javid has resigned as the UK Government’s Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister) as Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s first big cabinet reshuffle went spectacularly wrong.

Bloomberg reported that the finance minister resigned after a disagreement with Johnson inside 10 Downing Street, citing three people familiar with the matter. 

The sources said the prime minister demanded that Javid fire all five of his most senior aides but the finance minister refused and quit.

“This is a historical record,” said John McDonnell, the UK Labour Party’s finance spokesman. “A government in chaos within weeks of an election.”

The abrupt departure follows Javid’s power struggle with Johnson and his adviser Dominic Cummings over how to manage UK finances following Brexit. 

Javid’s departure only eight months into the job damages plans for the UK Budget on March 11.

Javid was replaced by Rishi Sunak, an ally of Johnson.

Sunak used to work for Goldman Sachs and is married to the daughter of an Indian billionaire.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford tweeted: “Boris Johnson has lost control.

“Rather than prioritising the interests of people across the country, he is embroiled in an ego battle between his de-facto deputy Dominic Cummings and his former Cabinet ministers.”

Javid’s resignation letter in full read:

“Dear Prime Minister,

“It has been a privilege to serve as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Since being elected as the MP for Bromsgrove 10 years ago I have had the huge honour of holding several ministerial roles – running five departments, including two of the Great Offices of State.

“While I am grateful for your continued trust and offer to continue in this role, I regret that I could not accept the conditions attached to the reappointment. It is crucial for the effectiveness of government that you have people around you who can give you clear and candid advice, as I have always sought to do. I also believe that it is important as leaders to have trusted teams that reflect the character and integrity that you would wish to be associated with.

“The government you lead has an enormous opportunity in the coming years to transform our country. Millions of people have given their renewed trust in a Conservative government to move on from the divisions and distractions of recent years, and lead us forward into a decade of social and economic renewal. We must not waste a moment in delivering on that promise.

“As you know, the agenda we have been developing over the last seven months is one that I have long supported. From maintaining strong public finances, investing in infrastructure, protecting our environment, recruiting 20,000 police officers, and boosting housing and skills so the next generation can have the opportunities they deserve.

“I would urge you to ensure the Treasury as an institution retains as much credibility as possible. The team there has impressed me with the energy and intellect they have brought to delivering the shifts in policy that I have led. They are among the very best public servants we have and I hope they can continue to play a central role in driving an economic agenda that puts people and place at its heart.

“My biggest hope is that this government will bring the country together, and help to level the playing field so that stories like mine are not exceptional or lucky. While it is of course disappointing that I will no longer be in a position to see this vision through as one of your Cabinet Ministers, I am very optimistic about our country’s future. You and the government you lead will continue to have my full support from the backbenches.

“I am very much looking forward to spending more time with my family, and to continuing to serve the people of Bromsgrove.”

About the Author

Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.