Sajid Javid previously served as Home Secretary from 2018 to 2019, and then as Chancellor until February last year, when he was replaced by Rishi Sunak.
When the camera rolled on Matt Hancock the parliamentary musical chairs favoured Sajid Javid, appointed within 24 hours as the new Health Secretary.
The Sunday Guardian readers will remember Javid resigned as Chancellor in 2019 after Dominic Cummings, then Boris Johnson’s Chief Aide, insisted on No10 appointing the Treasury’s special advisors, which was unacceptable to Javid wanted to select his own team. As a result of the circumstances, the Government was reluctant to appoint a white British successor for fear of accusations of racism, fortunately as Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak was a brown face in waiting.
Javid’s appointment throws a whole new long-term dynamic on the Conservative Party. As a former Business Secretary, Housing Secretary, Communities Secretary, Home Secretary, and Chancellor Javid brings a wealth of Westminster experience and city corporate experience, from Goldman Sachs, Chase Manhattan, and JP Morgan, to the position. Javid is eleven years older than Sunak who has 15 years of hedge fund experience— both are admirers of Margaret Thatcher and advocate free markets. Javid is a liberal-conservative, interested by Ayn Rand and voted “with a heavy heart” to remain in the EU. He is the former boss and a friend of Carrie Johnson, a non-practising Muslim and non-practising Pakistani. By contrast, Sunak is a practising Hindu and traditional Indian; Sunak is a glossy political conservative, he campaigned to leave the EU and supported Johnson’s leadership bid, he is fiscally in tune with delivering the PM’s promises, his charm and straight-talk have engaged the public and like-minded MP’s. William Hague, the previous incumbent of Sunak’s North Yorkshire seat, once said “He’s a modern non-ideological conservative”.
Should there be any cause for a party leadership election in the distant future these two are likely to divide backbench loyalties, both from a personal and constituency perspective. Until Javid’s return, it was speculated Sunak had a good chance if he chose to take it. Hancock’s predicament showed there is some non-alignment with Johnson’s modus operandi, with a few MP’s publicly calling for Hancock’s resignation after Johnson had decreed the matter was closed.
This was possibly due to Dominic Cummings revelations about Hancock’s bad practice in awarding contracts to so-called cronies during the pandemic and other misdemeanors, it can be noted that Cummings has been vituperative about Hancock has never said a word against Sunak.
The NHS Labour lovies have wasted no time in fear-mongering about Javid’s unknown intentions regarding the NHS. The NHS post-Covid is having its own crisis with half a million people waiting for treatment, and Javid’s challenge is how quickly can these cases be dealt with in hospitals still in an atmosphere of Covid-precautions and the latest predictions of a winter Covid-surge. Sajid Javid presents himself as a family man and more sincere than Hancock, he appears keen to make that distinction.
Meanwhile in the local election in Batley and Spen Labour have scrapped through, retaining the seat by an insignificant majority of 323, surprising the Conservatives who expected to win that constituency. This election was newsworthy as Batley and Spen was the seat of Jo Cox, the Labour MP brutally murdered by a political terrorist in June 2016. Labour’s win is thanks to Jo Cox’s sister Kim Leadbeater, who campaigned energetically; the result is a reprieve for Labour leader Keir Starmer, who could have faced a leadership challenge if the result had gone the other way. No doubt George Galloway of the Workers Party of Britain siphoned his unexpectedly numerous votes from Labour’s vote bank making the Labour win more marginal, and the Conservative loss more disappointing. Commentators have also referenced the Tory loss to the Hancock affair.