HENRY DEEDES watches the new Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, bedding in
Sajid Javid pinged up, and the Tories gurgled like hounds with tickled tummies: HENRY DEEDES watches the new Health Secretary bedding in
He shot into the Commons, his arms swingin’, fingers clickin’ – and the rangy stride of a reveller struggling to make last orders at the bar. Pow!
A warm cheer from the Government benches greeted his arrival. Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans reached over and gave him a congratulatory pat on the back. Feeling that reassuring squelch of front bench leather beneath him once more, he flung his right boot over his other leg, opened his folder and let out a deep exhale as if to say: ‘Now, where was I?’
Nearly 18 months after he was cruelly cast out into the political wilderness, the Saj was back.
Sajid Javid had arrived at the House to make his first statement as Health Secretary, following revelations of Matt Hancock’s marmalade-dropping antics and subsequent defenestration on Saturday.
Sajid Javid had arrived at the House to make his first statement as Health Secretary, following revelations of Matt Hancock’s marmalade-dropping antics and subsequent defenestration on Saturday
What a vigorous tonic it was. What a bracing whoosh of fresh air after all those weekly finger wags we endured from his predecessor. As Saj pinged to his feet shortly after 5pm, even the chamber took a hopeful, celestial glow from the late afternoon sun.
‘Make no mistake,’ Javid announced in that jabby, staccato delivery of his. ‘Restrictions to our freedoms must come to an end.’ He saw no reason why plans to dispense with the restrictions on July 19 would not happen. He predicted so-called ‘terminus day’ would ‘not only be the end of the line but the start of an exciting journey for the country.’
From the Conservative back benches, there came the appreciative gurgles of ageing hounds having their tummies tickled. Mr Javid comes to this most daunting of jobs with the advantage of being untainted by the pandemic. He’s a new broom. Yet he was honest enough to admit how frustrating it had been for him sitting it out on the back benches all this time, not being able to play his part.
You could see from the level of polish he had applied to his statement how much he’d missed it all.
From the Conservative back benches, there came the appreciative gurgles of ageing hounds having their tummies tickled. Mr Javid comes to this most daunting of jobs with the advantage of being untainted by the pandemic
There were generous words from Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth on Hancock’s demise. He had always found him ‘courteous, respectful and professional’. He wished him well with his ‘personal difficulties’.
Sitting next to Ashworth was Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner, whom I spotted laughing and joking with one of Javid’s ministers, Edward Argar. Whisper it: all this lot get on much better than we’re led to believe.
Ashworth’s remarks about Hancock were echoed by health committee chairman Jeremy Hunt. He paid tribute to the ‘enormous energy’ Mr Hancock had brought to his department.
Ahem, well yes. Perhaps a little too much, judging by last week’s video nasty. Naturally, the new health minister’s performance was sweet music to those lockdown sceptics’ ears.
Oily compliments rained in. Lucy Allan (Con, Telford) cooed that Javid would be an ‘excellent Health Secretary’.
Naturally, the new health minister’s performance was sweet music to those lockdown sceptics’ ears. Oily compliments rained in. Lucy Allan (Con, Telford) cooed that Javid would be an ‘excellent Health Secretary’
Liam Fox (Con, N Somerset) joked Saj’s return was proof of the Government’s commitment to recycling. Saj chortled along. He was too polite to suggest Foxy’s career has been recycled more times than an old milk bottle.
Richard Drax (Con, S Dorset) beamed at how ‘refreshing’ it was to see a health minister speaking so positively for a change. Ex-Coldstream Guards officer Drax is a bird of rather stately plumage. He was appearing via Zoom from home, yet had still taken the trouble to adorn his pocket with a decorative mouchoir. Natty.
Suddenly, there was a deafening blast from the opposition benches. That prized blunderer Richard Burgon was on his feet making his first appearance in the chamber since God knows when.
Mr Burgon is the self-appointed keeper of the Corbynite flame who makes John Prescott sound like Cicero. He raised the vast sum of money Javid had earned during his time away from the frontline, while nurses are paid tuppence.
Loud groans from the Conservatives benches. Even Burgon’s Labour colleagues seemed faintly embarrassed.
The Saj leaned forward and fixed Burgon with a stare before replying: ‘He’s going to have to do a lot better than that.’ As indeed will his colleagues. Welcome back, Saj.
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