Midway through the leaders’ debate last week, Boris Johnson was asked if Sajid Javid would remain in his job if the Tories won the election. A ball of dread instantly formed in the chancellor’s stomach when Boris gave an unequivocal “Yes”. The public nod of approval from a prime minister incapable of keeping his word is the kiss of death to most careers. Javid remembered Boris telling him he loved him and him joking: “I bet you say that to all the girls.” Now it didn’t seem quite so funny.
Ever since he was first appointed, Javid has pretty much been Chancellor in Name Only. Or Chino for short. All the major spending announcements had been made by Number 10 and Javid had come to realise his role was almost entirely cosmetic. Boris had even got up to leave the Commons chamber as Chino prepared to deliver an entirely pointless spending review of everything that had already been announced.
That’s how little Javid means to Johnson. It’s not personal, though. Because that’s how little everyone in his cabinet means to Johnson. Useful idiots. No more, no less. So for the first three and a half weeks of the election campaign, Chino and the rest of the cabinet have been pretty much kept under wraps. Occasionally allowed out to launch a fairly shit poster campaign or to make themselves look Stupid in a twitter fight with Storzmmy, but otherwise left at home to stay out of trouble and watch TV.
Eventually, though, Javid had cracked. Summoning up what little self-worth he still had, he had demanded that CCHQ arrange for him to make a major speech on something or other. He wasn’t bothered what. And CCHQ had relented by fixing for Chico to head the bill in a tiny dance studio in the Lads and Girls club in Bolton. And even that was far too big a venue as only about a dozen or so Tory activists had bothered to turn up. None of whom were lads or girls: the average age was north of 50.
Not that Chino was bothered. An audience of 12 was at least three times as big as any he had got in the campaign so far and he beamed with excitement at the unexpected attention. This was his moment and he was going to milk every second. He might not get another chance after this. In fact, after this he definitely wouldn’t. He began with Brexit. The Tories could be trusted to spend the Brexit dividend that would make the country considerably poorer wisely. They would fill every pot hole … and that was about it. Other projects might or might not happen, depending on something. But it would all be great. Every word seemed to die on his lips. Communication will never go down as one of Chino’s core skills. If it had been left to him to deliver the Gettysburg Address, no one would have given the future of the US a prayer.
With the Muslim Council of Britain having spoken out against the Tories earlier in the day, most questions focused on Islamophobia within the party. “No one has ever accused anyone in the leadership of Islamophobia,” Javid said, beads of sweat starting to form on his head. Er, hello? What about the prime minister comparing Muslim woman to letterboxes? Oh that! That had been just a lighthearted joke made years ago. A love letter to Muslims, really.
Seven times Javid was asked if he condemned Johnson’s use of language and seven times he refused to be drawn. It must have been utterly humiliating for someone Muslim-born to have to defend his leader in that way. To deny his background in order to defend a leader with form for casual racism.