UK Treasury chief quits as Johnson shakes up Cabinet

LONDON (AP) — United Kingdom (UK) Treasury chief Sajid Javid unexpectedly resigned yesterday after resisting a reduction in his power, as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson sought to tighten his grip on the government with a Cabinet shake-up.

Javid had been widely expected to keep his job — the second most powerful in the government — as Johnson fired some Cabinet members and promoted more junior ministers to top jobs.

He smiled as he entered the prime minister’s 10 Downing St office on yesterday morning to meet Johnson along with other ministers who were being promoted or kept in place. But a spokesman confirmed soon after that Javid had quit.

Britain’s Press Association news agency reported that Javid had resigned after being told to fire all his aides and replace them with staff appointed by the prime minister’s office.

The government quickly replaced him with Rishi Sunak. He was previously a deputy to Javid at the Treasury and is regarded as a dependable Johnson loyalist.

Javid’s resignation follows reports he had clashed with Johnson’s powerful adviser, Dominic Cummings, a self-styled political disruptor who is mistrusted by many lawmakers and officials.

“Dominic Cummings has clearly won the battle to take absolute control of the Treasury and install his stooge” at the helm, said John McDonnell, finance spokesman for the opposition Labour Party.

Javid had been due to deliver his annual budget in less than a month — a crucial financial plan as the government tries to boost Britain’s economy in the wake of the country’s departure from the European Union (EU) last month.

Johnson’s government faces the challenge of negotiating a new relationship with the 27-nation EU by the end of this year. Johnson also has ambitious infrastructure plans including a GBP100-billion (USD130 billion) high-speed railway connecting London to central and northern England, and has vowed to boost poorer regions outside the economic hub of London and southeast England.

Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid leaves 11 Downing Street in central London. PHOTO: AFP