Sajid Javid has said he had “no option” but to resign as chancellor – because Boris Johnson attached conditions to him staying in the role which “no self-respecting minister would accept”.
Mr Javid quit after refusing to sack his aides in a row with the prime minister that took Westminster by surprise.
Read Sajid Javid’s full resignation letter at the bottom of this article
The former chancellor said the condition was something he was “unable to accept”.
“I felt I was left with no option other than to resign.”
He added: “I don’t believe any self-respecting minister would accept such conditions and so therefore I felt the best thing to do was to go.”
Former chief secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak has replaced Mr Javid, telling journalists as he entered the Treasury that he was “delighted to be appointed” and had “a lot to get on with”.
He later tweeted that his “predecessor and good friend Saj” did a “fantastic job” as chancellor.
“He was a pleasure to work with and I hope to be able to build on his great work going forward,” Mr Sunak added.
I am honoured to be appointed as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
My predecessor and good friend Saj did a fantastic job in his time at the Treasury. He was a pleasure to work with and I hope to be able to build on his great work going forward.
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) February 13, 2020
On a day when there were expectations of only a moderate shake-up of Boris Johnson’s government – little more than two months after the Tories’ general election success – Mr Javid caused shockwaves by quitting his role.
His departure comes less than four weeks before this year’s budget, meaning Mr Javid will leave the Treasury without ever having delivered the set-piece fiscal announcement.
Mr Javid was offered the chance to keep his role but resigned following a dispute with Downing Street over his close aides.
The prime minister demanded the chancellor sack all of his special advisers following turbulence between Number 10 and the Treasury in recent weeks.
The chancellor refused and as a result both sides decided to part company.
Mr Javid made a number of pointed references to the row in his resignation letter to the PM.
The former chancellor said it was “crucial for the effectiveness of government that you have people around you who can give you clear and candid advice”.
And he told Mr Johnson: “I would urge you to ensure the Treasury as an institution retains as much credibility as possible.”
In the hours after Mr Javid’s resignation, Downing Street confirmed that a new joint team of special advisers was being established in Number 10 and Number 11 to advise the PM and his new chancellor.
Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said preparations for the budget on 11 March will continue under Mr Sunak.
“Extensive preparations have already been carried out for the budget and they will continue at pace,” they said.
He added that Mr Johnson thanked Mr Javid for his work as chancellor.
Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell claimed the events amounted to a power-grab by Mr Johnson’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings.
He said: “This must be a historical record with the government in crisis after just over two months in power.
“Dominic Cummings has clearly won the battle to take absolute control of the Treasury and install his stooge as chancellor.”
In a wider shake-up of his government, Mr Johnson had earlier sacked eight ministers before beginning the process of announcing their replacements.
Those told to leave government included Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith, Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom, Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers and Attorney General Geoffrey Cox.
Dear Prime Minister,
It has been a privilege to serve as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Since being elected as the MP for Bromsgrove 10 years ago I have had the huge honour of holding several ministerial roles – running five departments, including two of the Great Offices of State.
While I am grateful for your continued trust and offer to continue in this role, I regret that I could not accept the conditions attached to the reappointment.
It is crucial for the effectiveness of government that you have people around you who can give you clear and candid advice, as I have always sought to do.
The government you lead has an enormous opportunity in the coming years to transform our country.
Millions of people have given their renewed trust in a Conservative government to move on from the divisions and distractions of recent years, and lead us forward into a decade of social and economic renewal. We must not waste a moment in delivering on that promise.
As you know, the agenda we have been developing over the last seven months is one that I have long supported.
From maintaining strong public finances, investing in infrastructure, protecting our environment, recruiting 20,000 police officers, and boosting housing and skills so the next generation can have the opportunities they deserve.
I would urge you to ensure the Treasury as an institution retains as much credibility as possible. The team there has impressed me with the energy and intellect they have brought to delivering the shifts in policy that I have led.
They are among the very best public servants we have and I hope they can continue to play a central role in driving an economic agenda that puts people and place at its heart.
My biggest hope is that this government will bring the country together, and help to level the playing field so that stories like mine are not exceptional or lucky.
While it is of course disappointing that I will no longer be in a position to see this vision through as one of your Cabinet Ministers, I am very optimistic about our country’s future.
You and the government you lead will continue to have my full support from the backbenches.
I am very much looking forward to spending more time with my family, and to continuing to serve the people of Bromsgrove.