Finance minister Sajid Javid resigned on Thursday, British media reported, a surprise move that shattered Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s choreographed reshuffle of his government and raised questions over his leadership team.
Johnson’s team had wanted to keep Britain’s biggest-hitting ministers in post, but Javid’s reported resignation over what one political editor said was a disagreement over his advisers has thrown the prime minister’s plans off kilter.
“He has turned down the job of Chancellor of the Exchequer,” the Mirror newspaper quoted a source close to Javid as saying.
“The PM said he had to fire all his special advisers and replace them with No 10 special advisers to make it one team. The Chancellor said no self-respecting minister would accept those terms.”
Media reported that Rishi Sunak, the 39-year-old Chief Secretary to the Treasury, had been offered the job as finance minister.
Johnson had wanted to preside over a reshuffle that would stamp his authority over a government he hoped would deliver his vision for Britain beyond Brexit and heal the divisions in his Conservative Party and the country.
But his first sacking, that of Northern Ireland minister Julian Smith who only a month ago had helped broker the restoration of a government in the British province, had prompted criticism from politicians north and south with the border with Ireland.
Smith, who had been in charge of parliamentary discipline for Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, was the first minister to lose his job in the reshuffle. He was joined by business minister Andrea Leadsom and environment minister Theresa Villiers.
John McDonnell, finance spokesman for the main opposition Labour Party, described the reshuffle as chaos.
“This is a historical record. A government in chaos within weeks of an election,” he said on Twitter.
“It’s clear (Johnson’s special adviser) Dominic Cummings has won the battle to take absolute control of the Treasury and has installed his stooge as the Chancellor.”