Sajid Javid furiously confronted Boris Johnson last night after his senior adviser was sacked by No10 without his consent.
The Chancellor was ‘livid’ after the Prime Minister’s chief aide Dominic Cummings fired Sonia Khan amid accusations she had leaked Brexit secrets to her former boss Philip Hammond.
It exposed an apparent growing rift between No10 and the Chancellor, who faced the embarrassment this week of having details of his autumn Budget leaked by Downing Street before he had approved it.
An ally of Mr Javid said last night: ‘Saj is furious about the way this was handled and that has been made clear to the Prime Minister.’
Last night Mr Cummings stuck to his guns when he addressed the weekly No10 meeting for government advisers. It was reported that he appeared irritated by media coverage of Miss Khan’s sacking and said he was annoyed at complaints about pay and gender bias in a team of 101 special advisers of whom 29 are women. He added: ‘If you don’t like how I run things, there’s the door – f*** off.’
Miss Khan’s sacking, as revealed by the Mail yesterday, after a stand-off with Mr Cummings at No10 on Thursday means Mr Javid must now prepare for next week’s comprehensive spending review without one of his most senior advisers.
The Chancellor Sajid Javid was said to be ‘livid’ after the Prime Minister’s chief aide Dominic Cummings fired Sonia Khan amid accusations she had leaked Brexit secrets to her former boss Philip Hammond
On Tuesday night, No10 also cancelled a planned speech for the following day in which he was due to set out his thinking on spending.
A senior Tory told the Mail: ‘They are deliberately trying to make Saj look weak. Sonia is the second of his advisers to be sacked by No10 in the past few weeks. They briefed the media he was going to cut fuel duty in the Budget without even discussing the idea with him.
‘And then they scrapped his first big speech the night before he was due to give it. That’s not the basis for a good relationship.’
An ally of Mr Javid played down suggestions of a rift, saying: ‘Would it have been courteous for Cummings to have consulted Saj before sacking Sonia? Yes, of course it would. It was rude, but that is his style.’
The firing of Miss Khan, a popular figure in government circles, sparked dismay among some fellow advisers yesterday, although Mr Cummings also had support for the move.
Downing Street insiders fear that they could face legal action over the manner of Miss Khan’s sacking. Sources told the Mail on Thursday night she had been dismissed for leaking Brexit secrets.
No10 insisted Mr Johnson and his Chancellor ‘work very well’, adding: ‘It has already been an incredibly productive relationship.’ But there isn’t a fag paper between Saj and the PM. He completely agrees with the need to run a disciplined operation in the current climate’
It is understood she was called in by Mr Cummings because he suspected her of consorting with allies of Mr Hammond, a leading figure in the plot to halt No Deal.
A source said Miss Khan was presented with a list of names and denied she had spoken with any of them recently. Mr Cummings demanded she hand over her work and personal phones and went through them. He is said to have discovered she had spoken that day with a close aide to Mr Hammond and had deleted a string of WhatsApp messages to the same person.
She was fired, ordered to surrender her Whitehall security pass and ‘frogmarched’ from No10 by a police officer.
Mr Cummings was the only official present and no notes were taken. Sources acknowledge they have no evidence about the nature of Miss Khan’s discussions with Mr Hammond’s aide. A Cummings ally defended the decision, saying: ‘In the end, she lied to one of the most senior advisers in Number 10 – that would be a sacking offence in any government.
‘Dom has two rules. He doesn’t care who you are or what your background is. He just cares that you are good at your job and he can trust you.’
But Dave Penman of the FDA union for senior civil servants said the case ‘raises serious concerns about the treatment of this group of staff who are, ultimately, the responsibility of the appointing minister.’
Last night Mr Cummings stuck to his guns when he addressed the weekly No10 meeting for government advisers. It was reported that he said: ‘If you don’t like how I run things, there’s the door – f*** off.’
No10 insisted Mr Johnson and his Chancellor ‘work very well’, adding: ‘It has already been an incredibly productive relationship.’ But there isn’t a fag paper between Saj and the PM. He completely agrees with the need to run a disciplined operation in the current climate.’
Government sources yesterday confirmed another of Mr Javid’s aides, Olivia Robey, was ousted by No10 earlier this month. Sources declined to say why, but it is not thought to be leak-related.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said Mr Cummings now appeared to be running the Treasury from Number 10. He added: ‘It would be better if Dominic Cummings came along next week to present the spending review as he’s obviously in charge of the Treasury as well as No10. If you can’t speak without his permission and can’t even decide your own staffing you’re hardly the chancellor.’