Sajid Javid: the man stepping in to lead UK’s pandemic battle

He resigned as chancellor after clash with Prime Minister Boris Johnson over hiring staff

epa09304118 (FILE) - Britain's then Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid (R) is thanked by Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) after he delivers a speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, Britain, 30 September 2019 (reissued 26 June 2021). Downing Street on 26 June 2021 said Sajid Javid was appointed to succeed Matt Hancock who resigned as Health Secretary.  EPA/NEIL HALL *** Local Caption *** 55509051

Conservative Party heavyweight Sajid Javid has been named as the UK's new Health Secretary after Matt Hancock was forced to quit the role for breaking Covid rules.

A former chancellor of the exchequer, Mr Javid steps in as the government tries to bring an end to coronavirus restrictions despite a rise in infections fuelled by the Delta variant of the virus.

He returns to the Cabinet more than a year after losing a power struggle with Prime Minister Boris Johnson's former adviser Dominic Cummings, who criticised the government recently.

Mr Javid was one of the contenders for the Conservative leadership in 2019. That contest  was eventually won by Mr Johnson.

He subsequently became chancellor, the UK equivalent of finance minister, but resigned last year after a clash with Mr Johnson over the hiring of departmental aides.

Mr Javid said he had no option but to resign after he was ordered to replace his political advisers.

"I was unable to accept those conditions. I don't believe any self-respecting minister would accept such conditions," he said.

It followed reports of clashes between Mr Javid and Mr Cummings, who was then Mr Johnson's top adviser.

Mr Cummings was himself ousted in November amid a power struggle in the Prime Minister's Downing Street office, which was rumoured to involve Mr Johnson's wife, Carrie Johnson.

Mr Cummings suggested on Saturday that Mrs Johnson was behind Mr Javid's return to the government.

He claimed that he had "tricked" Mr Johnson into removing Mr Javid, whom he described as "bog standard" and "awful" for the National Health Service.

Mr Javid said his top priority now was to bring about a "return to normal" in the UK.

"We are still in a pandemic and I want to see that come to an end as soon as possible," he said.

High-flying family 

Mr Javid’s Pakistani parents arrived in the UK in 1961, where his father worked as a bus driver in Rotherham, northern England before setting up his clothing business, Scallywags, in Bristol.

The middle sibling of five children, he acknowledges his Muslim heritage but does not practise a religion.

His brother Basit is deputy assistant commissioner at London’s Metropolitan Police; Atif is a property entrepreneur and Khalid is the founder of property finance firm Blackstone Financial Solutions.

The eldest brother Tariq, 52, was found dead in a Sussex hotel in 2018 having taken his own life. Tariq had been a successful retail entrepreneur.

Mr Javid has spoken of his personal memories of racial abuse as a child.

He graduated from the University of Exeter with a degree in economics and politics in 1991 as the first of his family to attend university.

He had a successful career in the upper echelons of the financial sector, starting with a spell at New York’s Chase Manhattan bank.

On his return to Britain, he worked at Deutsche Bank International, rising to the board of directors.

He was elected MP for Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, in 2010. He is married and has four children.

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