Boris Johnson had been getting increasingly irritated by the number of unhelpful stories in newspapers quoting a ‘senior Treasury source’. Number 10 didn’t blame Sajid Javid for them, but – rightly or wrongly – his team.
It all reinforced Boris Johnson’s desire for a joint Number 10/ 11 operation. He wanted a relationship between the two political teams akin to that between Cameron and Osborne’s; indeed, what Number 10 is doing is exactly what Cameron and Osborne would have done if they had won a majority in 2010.
So when Sajid Javid went to see Boris Johnson this morning, Johnson told Javid that he wanted a joint operation and that only one of Javid’s team would be kept on. Javid felt that he could not accept these terms and quit.
Even now, Number 10 is keen to stress that its quarrel was not with Sajid Javid but his camp. I’m told that there is a ‘way back for him if he wants one’.
The new Number 10 and 11 will be ‘watertight politically’. Significantly, Rishi Sunak is a Brexiteer, so the Treasury and Number 10 will now be aligned on Brexit. As one Whitehall source jokes, this is one area where Number 10 is keen on high alignment.
Today has been another reminder of how this Number 10 is determined to ensure that everyone in government is on the same page. It wants loyalty and discipline as well as competence.