LBC Views: Don't expect Sajid Javid to arrive in the Commons empty handed

28 June 2021, 10:43

Theo Usherwood gives his LBC View
Theo Usherwood gives his LBC View. Picture: LBC
Theo Usherwood

By Theo Usherwood

Political Editor Theo Usherwood looks at the views of the new Health Secretary Sajid Javid, as he gives his LBC View.

“When you lockdown the country, when you shut down basically most of your economy, you don’t just lose that day’s output. The damage to the economy keeps getting worse and worse.”

That was the view of one Sajid Javid, speaking to LBC just over a year ago.

It’s instructive because it tells us how the new Health Secretary might be minded when it comes to making decisions about the final lifting of restrictions, due to take place on July 19th.

Matt Hancock was one of the doves in Cabinet, putting forward the arguments of the scientists who have warned against the speedy re-opening of the economy after each lockdown.

But those scientists who want a cautious approach will face a much tougher task in convincing Mr Javid to give them the same level of support around the Cabinet table.

Speaking yesterday, the former chancellor insisted he was determined to bring this current lockdown to an end.

“We are still in a pandemic and I want to see that come to an end as soon as possible, and that will be my most immediate priority,” he said.

Mr Javid of course has extensive experience in Government.

A former Communities Secretary, he also ran the Home Office without making a complete mess of it, unlike so many others who’ve held that office.

However, he has not always had everything his own way.

Back in February last year, as a Chancellor who had yet to deliver a Budget, a reshuffle presented with Dominic Cummings, then the PM’s chief adviser, an opportunity to gain more control over the Treasury by merging a small team to work across both Number 10 and Number 11.

Mr Javid couldn’t accept the land grab and quit the Government.

But even before Mr Cummings was sacked last year, many Tory MPs had been championing the return of Mr Javid, popular amongst his colleagues for being capable and competent.

However, perhaps the most important aspect of his elevation is that the Cabinet now has somebody who has often put forward the view of the economist towards the pandemic, rather than the scientist, in a key Government post.

We’ll get further indication of how Mr Javid is minded later this afternoon when he provides an update to MPs.

Many of his Conservative colleagues had wanted the Government to accelerate the lifting of restrictions to next Monday – two weeks earlier than the current date of July 19th, although two weeks later than the original date set for step four.

That’s not going to happen.

But do not expect Mr Javid to arrive in the Commons empty-handed, even if it is only with a firmer commitment to press ahead with the plan to return to normality in the middle of next month.