Who is Sajid Javid? Allies and rivals speak out about new Health Secretary

Sajid Javid has pledged to do everything he can to ensure he delivers for the country as Health Secretary

Sajid Javid takes over as Health Secretary following the resignation of Matt Hancock (Photo: PA)
Sajid Javid takes over as Health Secretary following the resignation of Matt Hancock (Photo: PA)

Sajid Javid has said his “most immediate priority” will be getting the country through the Covid-19 pandemic as he takes over as Health Secretary following the resignation of Matt Hancock.

Mr Javid’s appointment was confirmed by Downing Street a mere 90 minutes after Mr Hancock confirmed he was leaving his post on Saturday (26 June) after breaching lockdown rules last month.

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The former Health Secretary was caught kissing close aide Gina Coladangelo in his ministerial office in footage released by The Sun when social distancing guidance was still in place.

Who is Sajid Javid?

Sajid Javid is a former Chancellor and Home Secretary, and was the first British Asian to hold one of the great offices of state.

He was the shortest-serving Chancellor since Iain Macleod, who died shortly after taking office in 1970, lasting just six months in the role before he abruptly left the position 16 months ago.

Mr Javid quit his position in February last year, less than a month before he was due to deliver his first Budget, after being told he must sack all of his advisers if he wanted to keep his job.

His departure came after a power struggle with Boris Johnson’s then chief adviser Dominic Cummings but in a reversal of roles, Mr Javid will now return to the Government’s top team.

Carrie Symonds, the Prime Minister’s wife, who previously clashed with Mr Cummings, was once a special adviser to Mr Javid during his tenure as communities secretary.

The previous clash with Boris Johnson reached a climax when he refused to dismiss his team of aides and replace them with a joint No 10/No 11 unit.

In a Commons statement, Mr Javid said chancellors had to be able to “speak truth to power” and “the arrangement proposed would significantly inhibit that, and it would not have been in the national interest”.

He also took a swipe at Mr Cummings, who has been blasting the Government’s pandemic performance since leaving No 10.

Before his appointment to Health Secretary this month, Mr Javid said he would be introducing a private member’s Bill to raise the minimum age for marriage to 18, to protect vulnerable teenagers from religious and cultural pressures to marry too young.

The 51-year-old is the son of a bus driver, who arrived in England from Pakistan in the 1960s with just a pound in his pocket, and is now married and has four children.

He made it to the final four in the race to replace Theresa May as Tory leader in 2019, but later dropped out and subsequently endorsed Mr Johnson.

The MP was born in Rochdale and grew up in Bristol where he attended a state school, and later went on to study economics and politics at Exeter University.

Before becoming an MP for Bromsgrove in 2010, he had a career in finance and was formerly vice president at the US bank Chase Manhattan at the age of 25, later moving to Deutsche Bank where he became senior managing director before leaving in 2009.

Over the course of his political career he has held various roles in the Treasury, including Culture Secretary in April 2014, Business Secretary in May 2015 and Housing Secretary in July 2016, before being made Home Secretary in April 2018.

What have allies and rivals said about him?

Mr Javid’s appointment as Health Secretary has been welcomed by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, whose father was also a bus driver.

In a tweet, he said: “Always good to see the children of bus drivers do well! Congrats @sajidjavid on your appointment as Health Secretary.

“Look forward to working together to protect our communities from this awful pandemic, get London vaccinated and continue opening up our city and country safely.”

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt also praised the appointment, describing Mr Javid as an “excellent choice” for the role.

Mr Hunt, now chairman of the Commons’ Health Select Committee, tweeted: “I worked closely w/him 4 many years & found him smart, decent &(perhaps rarely in the trade) 100% full of integrity.

“Best poss news 4 social care: he ‘gets it’ from his time at DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government) & as an ex-Chllr (Chancellor) will negotiate formidably with HMT (Her Majesty’s Treasury).”

However, the news was not well received by former Downing Street adviser Domining Cummings who labelled Mr Javid as “bog standard”, saying he would be “awful” for the NHS.

In a tweet posted shortly after the announcement, he also suggested Carrie Johnson had been responsible for the hire, writing: “So Carrie appoints Saj!”

Mr Cummings was seen to have helped force Mr Javid’s resignation from Government in March last year, after Boris Johnson told the then chancellor he must sack his advisers to stay in the role.

In a tweet, he added: “If I hadn’t tricked PM into firing Saj, we’d have had a HMT (Her Majesty’s Treasury) with useless SoS/spads (Secretary of State/advisers), no furlough scheme, total chaos instead of JOINT (number) 10/11 team which was a big success”.

“Saj = bog standard = chasing headlines + failing = awful for NHS. Need #RegimeChange.”

‘A huge and urgent task ahead’

Mr Javid has said he recognised the “huge responsibility” which faces him as Health Secretary and pledged to do everything he can to ensure he delivers for the country.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA chair of council, warned he has a “huge and urgent task ahead”, which includes completing the rollout of the adult vaccination programme, tackling the backlog of treatments, and dealing with an exhausted NHS workforce following 15 months of the pandemic.

The British Medical Association’s council chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said Mr Javid would need to be “honest” with the public over tackling a backlog of care and negotiate the resources that the NHS needs.

He told Sky News there were “a record five plus million patients on waiting lists” which “doesn’t include about 20 million patients who were not seen in outpatient clinics last year”.

He added: “Many of those patients will become more ill as time goes on. Many of them have health conditions, which if they’re not treated promptly, will become more serious.

“And what he will need to do is manage that crisis in a way that delivers prioritisation, but also be honest with the public about the length of time it’s going to take.”

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