New U.K. Health Chief Vows ‘No Going Back’ Into Lockdown
(Bloomberg) -- New Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he wants life in Britain to return to normal “as quickly as possible” as he began work on plans to ease pandemic restrictions, after returning to Boris Johnson’s top team.
Javid is a one-time managing director at Deutsche Bank AG and former chancellor of the exchequer who is expected to push for a quick end to Britain’s coronavirus rules next month.
The new minister will make a statement in Parliament later on Monday and while he’s not likely to lift the curbs early on July 5, he is expected to say the data is still looking good for ending social distancing rules on July 19.
“I want to see the restrictions lifted and life going back to normal as quickly as possible,” Javid told Sky News on Monday. “That is my absolute priority.” There will be “no going back” to reimpose pandemic rules that have already been relaxed, he promised.
Javid is more likely to support easing coronavirus rules than his predecessor, Matt Hancock, who resigned on Saturday, according to former Javid aide Salma Shah.
“His view could be defined as a lot more liberal when it comes to Covid restrictions,” Shah told BBC television. “Immediately we’ll see that.”
A second-generation immigrant and son of a bus driver, Javid steadily rose through the Tory ranks following his election to Parliament in 2010 after a successful banking career, becoming Britain’s first ethnic-minority chief of the Treasury in 2019.
Downing Street Bust-Up
However, his tenure as Chancellor was short-lived and he never delivered a budget, quitting in February 2020 after a face-to-face argument with the prime minister in 10 Downing Street. Johnson had demanded Javid fire his most senior aides and set up a joint unit with his office. Javid refused to do so and quit.
A former employee of Chase Manhattan Bank, Javid, 51, ran against Johnson for the leadership of the Conservative Party in 2019. The health portfolio is his sixth different role as a secretary of state, having previously run the culture, home, business, communities and Treasury departments.
At Deutsche, he ran the German bank’s trading operations in Asia before entering Parliament.
Javid takes charge of Britain’s pandemic response at a critical moment, with cases surging and the country’s vaccination program still in full swing.
His immediate tasks include managing a significant back-log of operations in the National Health Service, planning a campaign of booster vaccinations against the coronavirus in the winter and devising proposals to fix Britain’s social care system.
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