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Cummings savages the Saj

Cummings savages the Saj
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Sixth time’s the charm for Sajid Javid who takes up the health brief following Matt Hancock's resignation. Javid, who has previously run the housing, business, culture, Treasury and home affairs departments, resigned from Boris Johnson's government in February last year, following a power struggle with No. 10.

The former Deutsche Bank executive quit after being told in a face to face meeting with the Prime Minister to fire all of his advisers at the Treasury and replace them with individuals selected by Johnson's backroom team, led at the time by one Dominic Cummings. Javid declined and left office, claiming ‘no self-respecting minister would accept those terms’ – terms which, presumably, will not be forced on him in his new found role.

There is therefore a sense of natural justice in some Tory quarters at a well respected ex-minister returning to the fold after standing up for his staff. That sense is not of course shared by everyone, with Dominic Cummings quick to chime in with his reflections on the consequences of February 2020. 

Cummings claimed that Javid's former special adviser Carrie Johnson was behind the move to bring him back into government and that ‘if I hadn't tricked PM into firing Saj’ during Covid the Treasury would have had ‘useless SoS/spads, no furlough scheme, total chaos’ instead of the ‘big success’ of the current joint No. 10/No. 11 operation, enforced in the wake of Javid's departure.

Javid wasn’t fired, of course, he resigned in protest at the way Cummings was operating (and feels vindicated, given subsequent events). Nor is there a ‘joint No10/No11 operation’. Aside from one or two shared advisers, the old system carries on as before. But Cummings’ attack will make it easier for those still working in Downing Street to welcome the onetime Chancellor back into office by pinning the blame for his exit on the now-departed Vote Leave gang. Indeed Javid’s appointment will likely be interpreted as a deliberate slight at Cummings, to show that Hancock’s departure had little to do with the vocal and repeated criticisms made by the former chief special adviser.

Mr S suspects both men feel a similar sentiment towards one another, best summarised by that classic Vote Leave in-joke: we wish them well.

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk

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