LONDON — Once again, Boris Johnson took back control.
After months of strained relations between No.10 and the man in charge of Britain’s economy next door, the British prime minister pushed to assert his dominance and his Chancellor Sajid Javid decided to quit.
Javid, who had become increasingly irritated by a characterization that he was merely the “chino chancellor” — “Chancellor in Name Only” — surprised many in Westminster Thursday with a shock exit. During a meeting with the prime minister in Downing Street, Johnson demanded Javid fire all of his advisers and have them replaced with No. 10 officials, merging the two teams into one.
It was the final straw for Javid, who told reporters, “I don’t believe any self-respecting minister would accept such conditions.”
The move appeared to be delayed revenge by Johnson’s top adviser Dominic Cummings, whose fight with Javid goes back to last summer. Cummings unilaterally sacked one of Javid’s press advisers, Sonia Khan, accusing her of leaking to journalists, last August.
“It seems to me perfectly obvious they wanted to sack Saj” — Anonymous former Cabinet minister
Khan was escorted by armed police from Downing Street in a move that enraged the chancellor, according to his officials. It set a narrative about Javid’s lack of authority, which his team members have fought hard against.
The tables turned during the U.K. election campaign, when Javid insisted on spending restraint in the Conservative manifesto, convincing Issac Levido, the Tories’ campaign chief. Cummings and others in Johnson’s inner circle who first worked together during the Vote Leave referendum campaign in 2016 were more relaxed about big spending promises in a bid to win support in northern seats,