When spin doctors repeatedly assure the media that the prime minister and chancellor are working well together, it is normally a sign that rumours of tensions between them are true.
It happened with Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and now with Boris Johnson and Sajid Javid. Although the chancellor’s resignation shocked Westminster, there were warning signs that all was not well between 10 and 11 Downing Street.
Last August, Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s most influential aide, summarily sacked Sonia Khan, one of Javid’s special advisers. There have been persistent rumours that some Johnson allies did not rate Javid’s performance as chancellor. They talked up his deputy Rishi Sunak, an early backer of Johnson in last year’s Tory leadership election, when Javid ran against him. Sunak was handed two TV debates in the general election campaign, and Javid none – despite his seniority. Rumours swirled that Javid intended to press Johnson to dismiss the controversial Cummings after the election, but backed off when he won a thumping majority.
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