World

UK finance minister resigns amid reshuffle

By AAP Newswire

British finance minister Sajid Javid has resigned in a surprise move that shattered Prime Minister Boris Johnson's choreographed reshuffle of his government.

Johnson, who had wanted to minimise any disruption from the cabinet reshuffle, quickly appointed Javid's deputy Rishi Sunak, a loyal supporter of the prime minister who has often been put in front of the cameras to sell government policy.

Johnson's team had presented the reshuffle as an opportunity to foster new talent, particularly among women, while also rewarding loyal supporters to deliver his vision for Britain beyond Brexit.

But the finance minister's resignation - which some commentators said might have been sought by Johnson's team - due to a dispute over Javid's advisers added to the picture that the prime minister will not tolerate dissent in his government.

"He has turned down the job of Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister)," a source close to Javid said.

The source said Johnson had told Javid he would have to sack his advisers and replace them with advisers from the prime minister's Downing Street office.

"The Chancellor said no self-respecting minister would accept those terms."

Johnson had not been expected to change the biggest-hitting posts in his government but most saw even the smallest changes lower down the order as a sign that he wanted to tighten his grip on power.

His sacking of Northern Ireland minister Julian Smith, who only a month ago had helped broker the restoration of a government in the British province, prompted criticism from politicians north and south of the border with Ireland.

Smith, who had been in charge of parliamentary discipline for Johnson's predecessor, Theresa May, was the first minister to lose his job in the reshuffle.

He was joined by business minister Andrea Leadsom and environment minister Theresa Villiers.

Ultra-loyal Alok Sharma, a former minister for international development, was appointed as the new minister for business and also the head of the COP26 climate change summit when world leaders will travel to Scotland in November.