Sajid Javid’s career — Brexit, a pandemic, and a fallout with Boris

Robert Rinder compares Sajid Javid with beard to Brutus

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Sajid Javid has announced he will not stand at the next general election, meaning his political career will come to an end in 2024. During his 12 years in politics, the MP for Bromsgrove has served in a raft of senior roles including Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary and Health Secretary. Confirming his decision in a letter to the Conservative Party chairman,  Mr Javid wrote: “Being the local MP and serving in government has been the privilege of my life and I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to serve.

“I always sought to make decisions in the national interest, and in line with my values, and I can only hope my best was sufficient. I will of course continue to support my friend the prime minister and the people of Bromsgrove in any way I can.”

While Mr Javid is best known for his time in the House of Commons, prior to his career in politics, he worked in the City with investment banks such as Deutsche Bank International and JPMorgan Chase. He left the world of investment behind to pursue his political career in 2009 — a move which resulted in him taking a 98 percent pay cut, according to some reports.

When the sitting MP for Bromsgrove, Julie Kirkbride, announced she would be stepping down at the 2010 general election, Mr Javid was voted to be the Conservative Party’s candidate in the Worcestershire seat.

He won it with an 11,000 majority as the Tories formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats, and spent the next four years on the backbenches, receiving critical recognition for his work as an MP.

In 2012, Telegraph columnist Iain Dale listed Mr Javid among the “top 100 most influential figures from the Right,” writing of Mr Javid: “His fast rise up the greasy pole into George Osborne’s inner circle is not only proof of this man’s ambition but also his talent.”

When he secured a role in the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in 2014, then Prime Minister David Cameron described Mr Javid as “the brilliant Asian man who I asked to join the Cabinet”.

Between 2014 and 2018, Mr Javid also served in other Cabinet roles – Secretary of State for Business and Secretary of State for Housing.

By 2018, Prime Minister Theresa May was looking for a new Home Secretary after Amber Rudd was forced to resign. The Home Office was condemned at the time for its treatment of Windrush generation migrants.

Mr Javid was chosen to succeed Ms Rudd, becoming the first politician of colour to hold the role. He spent 14 months in the Home Office and divided opinion due to his approach to the Shamima Begum case. Ms Begum left the UK to join ISIS in 2015, when she was just 16 years-old, and when she tried to return to the UK, Mr Javid stripped her of her British citizenship. Ms Begum’s lawyers argued that this was unlawful.

The issue that brought Mr Javid’s time as Home Secretary to an end, however, was Brexit. By mid-2019, Mrs May had tried three times to get her unpopular Brexit deal through Parliament, but was eventually left with no choice but to resign.

Boris Johnson succeeded her and appointed Mr Javid to another of the Great Offices of State. A Tory heavyweight by this stage, Mr Javid was made Chancellor of the Exchequer having fallen short in the 2019 Tory leadership race.

Here, he vowed to increase funding to prepare for a no-deal Brexit as he continued to support Mr Johnson’s tough negotiating stance with the EU. This is despite the fact he had voted to Remain in the bloc in the 2016 referendum.

Mr Javid’s stay in Number 11 only lasted six months. Just a month after being appointed, Mr Johnson’s political adviser Dominic Cummings sacked one of Mr Javid’s aides without telling him. It was reported at the time that the then Chancellor “voiced anger” due to the decision.

The relationship between Mr Javid and the Prime Minister’s most senior adviser never recovered, and he resigned as Chancellor after Mr Johnson said he could keep the job, but only if he sacked all of his staff. His depature paved the way for Rishi Sunak to become Chancellor.

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Over a year on the backbenches later, Mr Javid eventually returned to Government as Health Secretary in June 2021, replacing Matt Hancock who had resigned after kissing his aide Gina Coladangelo, in breach of the Government’s COVID-19 guidance.

By the summer of 2021, the UK was into its third wave of COVID-19 cases, and despite concerns about a potential surge in deaths, Mr Javid appeared to suggest that the country should move away from lockdowns.

He said: “We are going to have to learn to accept the existence of Covid and find ways to cope with it – just as we already do with flu.”

Fortunately, the UK’s vaccine rollout was already underway, easing the public’s concerns over the pandemic. But the partygate scandals continued to damage the Government’s reputation, leading to growing calls for Mr Johnson to stand down.

Another scandal would ultimately prove one too many for Mr Johnson. When allegations of sexual assault were made against MP Chris Pincher, a man Mr Johnson had appointed as Deputy Chief Whip, the Government was plunged into chaos.

Mr Javid and Mr Sunak resigned on the same day in July. These departures sparked the downfall of Mr Johnson. Mr Javid then ran for the Tory leadership again earlier this year, but was one of the many candidates to be beaten by Liz Truss.

Prime Minister Sunak has today thanked his colleague with a heartfelt message, and said: “He’s been a proud champion of enterprise and opportunity during his time in government and on the backbenches – particularly for the people of Bromsgrove. May the Force be with you, Saj.”

It is unclear what Mr Javid might move on to next after politics, but his time in a turbulent Westminster is likely to be remembered for years to come. 

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