In a surprise move Chancellor of ex-chequer Sajid Javid has submitted his resignation while prime minister Boris Johnson has sacked the junior transport minister as part of his mini cabinet re-shuffle.
Reports suggest that Javid had rejected Johnson's orders to fire his team of aides, saying "no self-respecting minister" could accept such a condition. He had been due to deliver his first Budget in four weeks' time. But tensions between him and Johnson's press secretary Dominic Cummings had been going on for quite some time. They had further elevated when Cummings had last year sacked Sonia Khan, the chancellor's secretary without his advice and consent.
"The prime minister said he had to fire all his special advisers and replace them with Number 10 special advisers to make it one team.
"The chancellor said no self-respecting minister would accept those terms," reports indicated.
In the meantime, Nusrat Ghani, Tory MP for Weladen in East Sussex was earlier expected to become the new minister for the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail project. The £100bn project was given a green light by Johnson just a few days before the cabinet re-shuffle.
Ghani who was responsible for the shipping department in the transport ministry was sacked alongside another junior transport minister George Freeman.
“Huge privilege to have been the Transport Minister and we have achieved so much in the last two years. Thanks to the great team in the Department and now I get to spend more time with family and my constituents,” Ghani tweeted following the announcement.
Other ministers to lose their portfolios include Andrea Leadsom, the business secretary, Esther McVey the housing secretary, Julian Smith, the Northern Ireland secretary, Geoffrey Cox, Theresa Villiers have all been sacked from the cabinet in what is likely to be a relatively modest reshuffle by Boris Johnson, albeit one with the potential to still cause controversy. Chris Skidmore as universities minister, adding to the churn in two roles with a recent history of high ministerial turnover.
While widely briefed, the dismissal of Smith as Northern Ireland secretary despite his overseeing the restoration of the Northern Ireland assembly following three years of deadlock, prompted some anguish, with the nationalist SDLP saying it showed “Johnson’s dangerous indifference to us”.
“Serving the people of Northern Ireland has been the biggest privilege,” Smith tweeted, having arrived at parliament to see Johnson, and telling reporters he expected to go.