Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at the parliament, which reconvenes after the UK Supreme Court ruled that his suspension of the parliament was unlawful, in London, Britain, September 25, 2019, in this screen grab taken from video. (Reuters)
LONDON – Boris Johnson forced the resignation of his finance minister on Thursday for refusing to toe the line, a sign the prime minister was tightening his control in a government reshuffle designed to deliver his vision for Britain beyond Brexit.
Johnson, who had wanted to minimise any disruption from his long-planned cabinet revamp, quickly replaced Sajid Javid with his deputy Rishi Sunak, a loyal supporter of the prime minister who is often put before the media to sell government policy.
Johnson’s team had carefully choreographed the reshuffle, presenting it as an opportunity to foster new talent, particularly among women, while also rewarding loyalists.
But the finance minister’s resignation - which some commentators said might have been sought by Johnson’s team all along - added to a sense that the prime minister would brook no dissent and wanted to have more control over the Treasury.
“Whilst I was very pleased that the prime minister wanted to reappoint me, I was unable to accept the conditions that he had attached so I felt I was left with no option but to resign,” Javid told reporters outside his house.
“The conditions that were attached was a requirement that I replace all my political advisers ... I was unable to accept those conditions, I don’t believe any self-respecting minister would accept such conditions.”
Johnson’s spokesman said the British leader had set up a new economic team to advise both the prime minister and finance minister so that the two could work closely together.
“It will be based in Number 10 and Number 11 (Downing Street) and will jointly advise the prime minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer as they work to level up the economy across the UK,” the spokesman said, adding that Sunak had worked closely with his predecessor on the budget due in March.
Sunak, a former Goldman Sachs banker who is married to the daughter of an Indian billionaire, is seen by many Conservatives as a safe pair of hands who will easily get on board with Johnson’s agenda for a post-Brexit Britain. (Reuters)