Boris Johnson’s powerful adviser Dominic Cummings pushed hard for Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane to take over from Mark Carney as Governor but was overruled by the Prime Minister after intervention from Chancellor Sajid Javid, the Evening Standard has learned.
Johnson appointed Financial Conduct Authority chief Andrew Bailey instead in a victory for the Chancellor amid boiling point tensions with the aide.
Cummings had demanded Haldane for the job due to his more radical tendencies. Haldane has been sounding increasingly on board with the aide’s key messages on “levelling up” the regions. He has been far more outspoken than Bailey, chiming with Cummings’ preference for independent thinkers. However, despite the lobbying, Johnson refused.
City leaders have become increasingly concerned about the growing rift between Johnson’s top aide and the Chancellor dubbed in No 10 circles “Chino” (short for Chancellor-in-name-only).
Industry chiefs have privately called on the new regime to show unity and clear direction as it enters Brexit negotiations. They also demand clear guidance about how it sees the next five years of fiscal and monetary policy.
Concerns began as Cummings tried to stop Javid loosening the purse strings with big spending commitments for the NHS and police.
There have even been fears the aide may succeed in getting Javid fired in the forthcoming reshuffle.
Investec economist Victoria Clarke said: “At such a challenging period for the City, it would be concerning if the Chancellor is struggling to get his voice heard. An influential voice expressing those challenges is crucial.”
Simon French at Panmure Gordon said: “Intellectually, Haldane is impressive. The question mark was going to be his track record of running big organisations like the Bank of England.”
Haldane this week launched a report highlighting the disparities in regional productivity. He declared the Industrial Strategy Council, the group behind the report, must “hold the Government’s feet to the flames” on its industrial strategy. Such high-profile events have led to expectations he will soon be offered a big Whitehall role at Cummings’ behest.
Although Cummings has been seen as a Rasputin figure behind Johnson, his wings have been clipped on several projects affecting big business, with the PM overruling his opposition to Huawei and set to do the same on HS2.
Meanwhile, in what was seen as a direct snub to Cummings, Javid ignored his ban on ministers attending Davos to quaff “champagne with billionaires”.
Cummings was hired by Johnson to help frame his election battle and said — only half-jokingly — that he wanted to be in charge of everything. The recent run of decisions against him shows he does not always get his own way