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Inside politics

Testing times for Sunak and Javid


Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid are good friends – and they’re both Star Wars fans. When Javid gave way to his pal at No 11, he tweeted: “The Force is strong in young Sunak.” Sunak called his former boss at the Treasury “a Jedi Master”. But will they remain friends in the long run, wonders Andrew Grice in The Independent. Although both are fiscal conservatives, they seem to “be on a collision course over spending”. Javid’s new department is under huge pressure, with 5.1 million people waiting for hospital treatment, but the Treasury is facing heavy demands from elsewhere as well.

Both Sunak and Javid have their eyes on the top job. A future leadership battle between them would send a powerful signal about a diverse Conservative party. Or they could do a Blair-and-Brown deal, with one becoming PM and the other chancellor. But as Star Wars devotees, both might “want to be the master rather than the apprentice”.

Boris shouldn’t count on his buddies

Dominic Cummings’s recent broadsides against Boris Johnson have “revealed a great and strange truth” about the PM, says Iain Martin in The Times. It’s that Johnson lacks any solid political friends. Most leaders have “doughty defenders”: when Margaret Thatcher resigned in 1990, tearful acolytes turned up at No 10, begging her to stay. The best Johnson gets is “standard-issue waffle” from ministers “whose prime concern is avoiding the sack”. The PM has a Roman, pre-Christian attitude of ruling through fear. “It’s never nice with Boris,” a minister told Martin recently. “He’s not nice.” This works fine if you have a lead in the polls. But when times get tough, the “emptiness” will shine through. No one will rally round him.

Faithful companions

Ronald and Nancy Reagan. Presidential Library/Getty Images

Modern politicians would like us to think that powerful, successful men have never been able to confine themselves to one partner. Not so, says Petronella Wyatt in The Spectator. Otto von Bismarck, William Gladstone, Ulysses S Grant, Andrew Jackson, Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee, Harold Wilson, Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr were all faithful to their wives. I could go on for pages. But those men had principles. “This lot today are like bent coppers, and even then they don’t always stay bought.”