By Arj Singh
Sign up now to get The Waugh Zone, our evening politics briefing, by email.
Downing Street tried to “neuter” Sajid Javid and he was right to quit as chancellor in protest, his former adviser has said.
Salma Shah told HuffPost UK’s Commons People podcast that No.10’s demands to exert more control over the Treasury would have made it “impossible” for Javid to do his job.
Javid blew up Boris Johnson’s first reshuffle since the Tories’ election victory when he refused demands thought to have come from the PM’s chief of staff Dominic Cummings to establish a joint No.10 and No.11 team of special advisers – effectively giving Johnson and Cummings control of what had been Javid’s own team.
Shah told Commons People: “If you are in a situation where you are asked to get rid of your entire political team, that suggests to me that somebody is trying to neuter you.
“And it’s that great criticism of him [Javid] – chancellor in name only – how can you dispel that and have any kind of authority in your department that runs the economy if a simple matter of staffing you have no control over?”
Shah suggested Johnson may regret following Cummings’ advice as he had a “great relationship” with Javid.
“I’m not sure this is the outcome the prime minister really wanted,” the ex-special adviser said.
She suggested Downing Street had pushed too hard in a months-long feud with Javid and eventually suffered the “pointless” loss of a chancellor.
And she bemoaned the fact that the only ministers with a Muslim background were no longer in government after transport minister Nus Ghani was sacked.
“I do think it matters,” Shah said, “only insofar as, if we are trying to create this broad consensus for when the next election comes round, it is very sad that people representing a community aren’t there in positions of making decisions.
“Although broadly the ethnic minority count is now good, I think there is an important constituency that is now missing from the top table.”
She added: “When you are in a position where you have an 80-strong majority and you are doing your first reshuffle and you feel all-powerful, I think there are many things you can overlook.”
Shah worked closely with Javid for years as he occupied a variety of cabinet roles, including home secretary and housing secretary.
“I imagine, as it would be for any of us, [he will be feeling] quite bittersweet,” she said.
“But I think he is a very decisive person and he makes good decisions because they are based on fact and proper assessment.
“I think he won’t regret it because he did it for a reason, and if the reasons are to be believed, the reason is a good one.”