LAST week’s Cabinet “wet job” was an act of surgical precision and impeccable timing.
Nobody saw it coming — least of all “The Saj”, its principal victim — and it was all over in a flash.
Niccolo Machiavelli, 16th century Master of the Dark Arts, would have been proud.
“If you cannot have both,” he wrote, “it is better to be widely feared than to be greatly loved.”
Boris Johnson loves to be loved. But few guessed he had the ruthless streak it takes to govern.
Sajid Javid’s brutal beheading may have been a shock, but it was a direct lift from Machiavelli’s The Prince, a guide to the exercise of raw power.
At a single stroke — and in the face of growing doubts over his Government’s sense of direction — Boris has seized total command of Westminster and Whitehall.
A troublesome and ambitious Chancellor, eager to become Britain’s first Asian-origin PM, is gone. HM Treasury, the supreme force in Westminster’s corridors of power, is putty in BoJo’s hands.
The Treasury is all-seeing, all-hearing. Its expert teams keep tabs on every spending department, such as health, defence, transport, welfare, law and order and education.
It gives a stroppy Chancellor — such as Gordon Brown — almost unlimited powers of veto over a PM.
Ruthlessness is prized by Machiavelli’s Mafia countrymen — and by Downing Street consigliere Dominic Cummings, architect of last week’s Cosa Nostra-style bloodletting.
Days earlier, newspapers were claiming Cummings had been sidelined, losing his battle to sack Javid and shake up the Whitehall machine.
“The Saj” refused to act as a team player, sources complained, following the example of his mentor George Osborne by using patronage as Chancellor to set up cliques of supportive MPs.
“He didn’t want to be part of a single team in Downing Street,” says an insider close to events.
“He wanted to create a separate power centre.
“Who wants to start off a new Government with an 80-seat majority with two key offices at odds?”
The Treasury was dusting off Labour-lite plans to hit high earners with raids on pensions and property. Javid curbed Boris’s big spending plans in the North.
Tory MPs and peers — rattled by calls for a “cull of Eurosceptics” — discovered die-hard Treasury Remainers were meddling in Brexit negotiations.
Then, in a flash of steel, “The Saj” was gone, the Treasury is now a Downing Street subsidiary and Boris has taken supreme control of every major office of state.
THE REVOLUTION HAS BEGUN
“For the first time, we have been able to look at the figures Saj kept hidden,” says one insider.
Some Whitehall mandarins, especially in the Treasury, should start looking for jobs elsewhere.
The revolution has begun. Its strategy will be unveiled in the next few months, starting with Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s totally rewritten Budget to be delivered on March 11, as planned.
A Spending Review will then lay out a multi-billion splurge on roads, rail, power, the NHS and communications.
And in his autumn Budget, the new Chancellor will prepare UK plc for life outside the EU.
Ministers are hoping for a Margaret Thatcher-style economic earthquake, repeating the 1980s tax cuts and spending measures which set Britain up for decades of economic growth.
“Rishi is smart — and young,” says a Cabinet source. “He could be the next Prime Minister. He wants to reform business taxes and Boris likes that.
“We now have the prospect of a very serious and interesting Budget for business which last week looked worryingly like a Saj-Osborne event.”
Downing Street’s sudden assertion of authority has rung alarm bells in Brussels.
TONY PARSONSMeghan and Harry by all means demean yourselves, but don't demean our Queen
KARREN BRADYRose, don't be a thorn in Natalie Portman's side…she was right to make a point
JANE MOOREThe Sussexes are now for sale but it comes at a high cost to the monarchy
PRITI PATELPoints-based immigration will let us take back control of who we let in
THE SUN SAYSWe will always remember Caroline Flack for bringing sunshine into our lives
GRANT ROLLINGSWhy our 'exceptional' new Chancellor is the bright person for the job
“We are picking up a lot of panic and division,” says an insider. “For the last three years we’ve had a weak and divided Government with no idea.
“That’s all changed. We are making waves. Most of the EU’s 27 member states have elections before we do. This is focusing minds.
“Brussels must realise the PM is no longer bluffing. Until the election, he WAS bluffing because he could not deliver. Now he has an 80-seat majority — and he can.”
THE days of never-ending BBC empire building are over. The licence fee is doomed and Auntie must fight for her life in a competitive jungle.
As a lifelong fan of public-sector broadcasting, this is an infuriatingly self-inflicted tragedy. Anyone who’s lived abroad will know how appalling some TV and radio output can be.
We are about to pay dearly for those arrogant, we-know-best, liberal world view parasites who have invaded the Beeb’s commanding heights – and driven it off a cliff.