Former chancellor Sajid Javid has issued a warning to the government not to allow spending to get out of hand, telling Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak the country’s fiscal rules are “critical”.
Speaking in the Commons for the first time since he quit during the reshuffle, in the unusual move of giving a personal statement explaining his reasons, the MP for Bromgrove said he was a “proud low-tax Conservative” – but, in an apparent nod to adviser Dominic Cummings, noted that “not everyone at the centre of government always feels the pressure to balance the books”.
The Treasury should remember it is an independent finance ministry, Javid said. “It is the only tax-cutting ministry,” he noted.
“The fiscal rules that we are elected on are critical. To govern is to choose. And these rules crystallise the choices that are required. To keep spending under control. To keep taxes low, to root out waste and to pass that litmus test, that was rightly set in stone in our manifesto, of debt being lower at the end of this parliament.”
“We on these benches have a shot of achieving nothing less than wholesale renewal for our economy, our society, and our country – a chance to give everyone an opportunity to live up to their full potential… to put people, place and social justice at heart of a more human capitalism.”
Javid made several allusions to the role played by Johnson’s chief adviser Cummings, telling the house that: “Conservatives especially believe that no particular person or government has a monopoly on the best ideas” and stressing the importance of institutions.
Among the many battles between Cummings and Javid since July, the two clashed over who should be the next Bank of England governor. Cummings also intervened to sack Javid’s spad Sonia Khan last autumn, before orchestrating the creation of a joint economic unit between Number 10 and Number 11, which would have led to the sacking of Javid’s team.
“A chancellor has to be able to give candid advice to a Prime Minister so he is speaking truth to power,” he added, noting that the plan to merge the team was “not in the national interest” and would “significantly inhibit” the relationship.
But Javid said he would not “dwell” on what had happened during the reshuffle – to the groans of opposition MPs, which turned into laughter as he said he wanted to move on from the “Cummings and goings” of that day.