Sajid Javid has been knocked out of the Tory leadership contest – coming in fourth place overall. Ahead of the contest, there were high hopes amongst Javid supporters that he could make it all the way to the final two – and potentially No. 10. However, he had a difficult campaign start and the result today will now be seen as an achievement – and a cause of relief – by many of his supporters. There were points when it seemed Javid would struggle to get this far in the contest.
The Home Secretary’s leadership bid got off to a bad start with a lacklustre video launch from which he struggled to recover momentum. With so many candidates in the race at the beginning, in the first week Javid’s bid had little cut through with rivals dominating the conversation. In the first ballot he only narrowly beat Matt Hancock and was far behind many other Cabinet rivals. However, his campaign did improve significantly – with a new video about his journey into politics and his background as the son of an immigrant who grew up on one of Britain’s toughest street. It was highly praised by colleagues and won him new support. In the BBC debate this week, Javid was much more combative and was clear about the need for the UK to leave the EU by the end of October – and the need for the party to break away from traditional Tory stereotypes.
It follows that there has been talk that Javid could still be on course to a top job in a Boris government. As James reports in this week’s Spectator, he is the current frontrunner for the Treasury job. He and Johnson worked fairly well together in cabinet and Javid was an experienced financier before entering parliament. Javid shares Johnson’s view of the importance of a hard Brexit deadline and the manageability of no deal, his desire to build more houses — and his view that now is a good time to invest in big infrastructure projects, if necessary borrowing to do so.
Curiously, Javid allies say he is not planning to endorse a candidate ahead of the final MPs’ vote this afternoon. There had been an expectation he would row in behind Johnson. His decision not to can be put down to two reasons. Firstly, the speedy nature of the contest means that two hours until the next vote isn’t a particularly long period of time in which to move from running to endorsing a candidate. Secondly, Javid has been accused by rivals of benefitting from tactical voting from the Boris Johnson camp. The idea being that MPs who support Boris voted to keep Javid in, in order to knock more threatening candidates out. The Javid campaign deny this and insist any votes Javid won were on his own merit. The decision not to endorse Johnson means it is harder to accuse Javid of playing a part in any such plots. However, a Johnson endorsement could likely arrive in the coming days.