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Shropshire Star comment: Johnson may live to regret Treasury coup

By Shropshire Star | Opinions | Published:

Sajid Javid’s resignation as Chancellor came as a major shock in what was expected to be a fairly tame Cabinet reshuffle.

Happier times: Boris Johnson and Sajid Javid

On one hand, the Bromsgrove MP’s decision to quit rather than submit to an order to sack his advisors speaks volumes for his strength of character.

But it also reveals that in Boris Johnson’s administration, it is Number 10 that will be keeping control of the purse strings and not the Treasury.

Make no mistake, the influence of the PM’s chief strategist Dominic Cummings is growing by the day.

His stock will undoubtedly have risen after the events of the past six months, giving him a large degree of control over what goes on behind the scenes.

With relations between him and Mr Javid known to be strained, he will undoubtedly see his resignation as a major victory.

However, in the coming months Mr Johnson may well reflect on whether a row about advisors was a big enough issue to justify the loss of Mr Javid.

In his short spell at the Treasury – 204 days to be precise – Mr Javid has been a fiercely loyal servant to the PM, albeit one who was not afraid to make tough decisions.

History has shown us that the most functional governments in this country have thrived on opposing voices.

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For an administration to work effectively, a Prime Minister requires senior ministers who are willing and able to question him on policy.

This is especially the case with the role of Chancellor, which by its very nature involves having the rein in ambition and champion restraint.

If Tony Blair had control of the Treasury in 1997, Britain would probably have joined the euro – a stark example of how dissenting voices can play a crucial role in getting bad ideas thrown out.

The departure of Mr Javid shows that Mr Johnson will not stand for any dissent, but this could well be one power grab too far.

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He would be wise to bear in mind that past PMs who have sought to weaken the Treasury have usually lived to regret it.

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For the millions of television viewers, it is a heart-warming curtain-raiser to the big match, that moment when the star players come out, hand-in-hand with a little boy or girl mascot.

It is an unforgettable dream day for them as they meet their heroes and proudly play a role in the occasion.

What those who don’t follow football closely might not realise is that this is not a goodness-of-their-hearts exercise by the clubs in building community and public relations.

It is a privilege which is being paid for. At some Premier League clubs the mascot package can cost up to £700.

In fairness, it should be borne in mind that the deal may well include tickets, a replica kit, and so on. But even so.

Premier League, premium cost. League One Shrewsbury Town’s pricing is much more reasonable, offering young fans a day they will never forget at a fraction of the cost.

The club clearly values the loyalty of its fans and players of tomorrow.

Loyalty should work like that – both ways. And even in this money-spinning age, top clubs need to be careful not to alienate the fans which are their bedrock.

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