Boris Johnson took on a case of self-harm in his first cabinet reshuffle as prime minister, when he offered the then Chancellor, Sajid Javid, conditions to the job that he could not commandeer. Mr Javid, to keep his job, would have had to replace all of his political advisors. Mr Javid aptly resigned, with a parting moral judgement on his fellow colleagues that did stay the course, saying “no self-respecting minister” would have stayed in the job considering the conditions he was offered.
Whereas before Mr Johnson had an alley, he now has a foe. A foe that will now sit on the backbenches, scorned and wounded. Mr Javid, then, could effectively be viewed as the current leader of the opposition who has just struck the first blow on the new government. Although, I doubt this will chip Mr Johnson’s armour.
If Javid had accepted, Johnson would’ve known he’d have a submissive chancellor, capable of self-depreciation at the behest of career furtherment. But, by losing Javid, he’s also gained. He’s put all dissenters to the project– regardless of talent – onto the backbenches, with little room for maneuverer. Mr Javid, after all, was a champion of deficit containment and, was, a remainer – keen on speaking reason regarding trading relations.
Javid’s resignation as chancellor also won’t do much to crane Labour’s position in the polls; as any backbench dissent will still carry with it a Conservative narrative of infighting, rather than opposition, Labour led, questioning. In other words, the Conservatives will still get the media attention.
Cabinet ministers, however, may become weary and discontent with their appointments seemingly being governed by Cummings. Johnson’s majority in the commons certainly seems infallible now, but with Cummings’s overbearing yearning for control and Johnson’s inability for real politicking, it won’t be long before the rebels begin to amount into something that Labour can capitalise on.