Sajid Javid has unexpectedly resigned as chancellor amid Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle, and said “no self-respecting minister” would accept the ultimatum handed to him by the prime minister that undermined his authority.
The prime minister sacked five senior ministers on Thursday morning but Javid had widely been expected to remain in post.
Rishi Sunak, who had been serving as chief secretary to the Treasury, has been appointed chancellor in his place. He said he was “delighted” and had “a lot to get on with”.
It was understood Javid objected to No.10 seeking to take more control over the Treasury, a move that seemed to be confirmed when Downing Street said said a new joint team of special advisers was being established in between the two departments.
Speaking after the bombshell resignation for the first time, Javid made plain that the proposal was unpalatable.
He said: “I was unable to accept those conditions and I do not believe any self-respecting minister would accept those conditions.”
When asked whether the conditions were put forward by Boris Johnson’s special adviser Dominic Cummings, he said they were imposed “by the prime minister”.
He soon after posted his resignation on Twitter, and made a thinly-veiled attack on appointing loyalists by warning: “It is crucial for the effectiveness of government that you have people around you who can give you clear and candid advice.”
Javid has for weeks been at loggerheads with Cummings, the mastermind of the successful Vote Leave campaign brought in by the new prime minister to head his No 10 operation.
Last year HuffPost UK revealed Cummings had fired one of Javid’s advisers.
John McDonnell, Labour’s shadow chancellor, said the shock resignation showed the government was “in crisis after just over two months in power”.
“Dominic Cummings has clearly won the battle to take absolute control of the Treasury and install his stooge as chancellor,” he said.
Elsewhere during a dramatic day, Julian Smith was fired as Northern Ireland secretary, despite him having recently helped secure a power-sharing deal at Stormont. He was replaced by party chairman Brandon Lewis.
Esther McVey has been fired as housing minister. Andrea Leadsom has been sacked as business secretary.
Geoffrey Cox, the attorney general, has been removed from his post and said it had been a privilege to serve during “recent turbulent political times”.
In a post on Facebook, Theresa Villiers said the prime minister told her she had to “make way for someone new” as she lost her job as environment secretary.
It is the first cabinet reshuffle since Johnson won a comfortable majority at the general election in December.
Suella Braverman, a leading Brexiteer, has been appointed attorney general.
Alok Sharma has been promoted from the international development job to business secretary, replacing Leadsom.
He has also been handed the job of minister for COP26, the UN climate change summit taking place in the UK later this year.
Oliver Dowden is the new culture secretary, replacing Nicky Morgan.
Former Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay has been appointed as Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Amanda Milling has been appointed Conservative Party chairman.
Priti Patel remains as home secretary and Dominic Raab remains as foreign secretary, Downing Street has confirmed.
Matt Hancock stays as health secretary and Liz Truss remains as international trade secretary.
Ben Wallace has kept his job as defence secretary - despite reports he was set to be fired.
Therese Coffey is staying in post as work and pensions secretary.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan has been promoted to international development secretary. George Eustice has been promoted to environment secretary.
Downing Street has indicated the most junior ministerial rank – parliamentary under-secretary of state level – is likely to have a 50-50 gender split after the reshuffle.