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Sajid Javid Insists Downing Street Isn't Dysfunctional As Boris Johnson Prepares For No.10 Overhaul

Sajid Javid Insists Downing Street Isn't Dysfunctional As Boris Johnson Prepares For No.10 Overhaul

Sajid Javid

3 min read

The Health Secretary has insisted that Downing Street isn't dysfunctional despite Boris Johnson making wholesale changes to its personnel, with more expected to come this week.

Speaking to Sky News on Monday, Sajid Javid said he does not "recognise" the suggestion that Downing Street is disorderly, and insisted that it had "achieved a lot" since Johnson came to office by delivering Brexit and defeating ex-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at the 2019 general election.

However, swathes of Conservative MPs who are unhappy with Johnson's leadership have demanded that the Prime Minister changes his inner circle in order to get a grip of Downing Street.

The Prime Minister made major changes to his top team over the weekend, appointing Stephen Barclay, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, as his Chief Of Staff and hiring Guto Harri, who worked for him as Mayor of London, to be his Director of Communications.

These appointments followed a dramatic 24 hours at the end of last week in which five senior members of staff quit Downing Street. The first of these was Munira Mirza, a close and long-standing ally of Johnson, who resigned over his refusal to apologise for the false Jimmy Savile claim he made against Labour leader Keir Starmer. Her departure was reportedly not part of the planned changes.

Further appointments are expected this week, potentially as soon as Monday, with Johnson thought to be preparing to appoint a new Chief Whip as part of his bid to get his wavering premiership back on train amid the ongoing 'partygate' scandal and questions over his leadership.

While Javid insisted that Downing Street isn't dysfunctional, he said that the changes being made by the Prime Minister were necessary.

"The changes that are now being made are what the Prime Minister promised in response to Sue Gray in which she herself in her recent report talked about the fragmented relationship between the Cabinet Office and Downing Street and the need to make changes," he told Sky News. 

Javid also said that recent criticism of Johnson's wife, Carrie, was sexist and that partners of politicians "should be off limits".

Allies of Carrie Johnson have leapt to her defence in recent days in response to a new book by Lord Ashcroft, the former deputy chairman of the Tory party, which claims that the Prime Minister expressed frustration at her attempts to exert influence over Downing Street.

"By all means go after the politicians, but why their wives, husbands, or partners?" Javid said.

"I actually do think there's some sexism involved in this, I really do. Going after Carrie Johnson is undignified, unfair, and it's just wrong".

The Health Secretary insisted that while she used to work for the government in a senior role as his special advisor, she currently had "no formal role in government".

He also refused to rule out a bid to replace Johnson as Conservative party leader and Prime Minister, telling Sky News' Kay Burley he did not believe there would be a leadership contest.

"I don't think there is going to be a leadership election because we've got a leader in place who is doing an excellent job," the Cabinet minister said.

"He is getting on with the job and delivering on all the commitments we made and I'm there to support him alongside the rest of the Cabinet".


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