Former Tory chancellor Sajid Javid knighted in new year honours

Top gong comes despite The Independent revealing that the senior Tory used non-dom tax loophole

Adam Forrest
Political Correspondent
Friday 29 December 2023 22:55

Related video: Sajid Javid had ‘no idea’ Rishi Sunak also wanted to resign on same day

Senior Conservative Sajid Javid has been knighted in the new year honours list as he prepares to stand down at the general election.

The former chancellor has been given the top gong despite The Independent’s revelation that he used a tax loophole to benefit from “non-dom” perks while working at the Treasury.

He joins several politicians receiving honours, including Labour’s Dame Margaret Beckett, who is awarded the Dame Grand Cross.

And leading Brexiteer Tim Martin – the Wetherspoon boss who remains outspoken on politics and the UK’s relationship with the EU – has been knighted.

Mr Javid is the biggest political name to be recognised in the annual new year’s list, with Liz Truss’s controversial resignation honours to follow.

The senior Tory, who is to stand down as the MP for Bromsgrove at the next general election, served in six cabinet roles and became the first British Asian to hold one of the great offices of state.

Taking on the roles of home secretary, chancellor and health secretary during his extensive government career after entering parliament in 2010, he also put himself forward for the Tory leadership twice.

Sajid Javid resigned from the Boris Johnson government on the same day as Rishi Sunak

It was his sensational resignation from Boris Johnson’s cabinet in July 2022, on the same morning as Rishi Sunak, that spelled the beginning of the end for the former PM’s premiership.

Mr Javid had previously left his chancellor role abruptly in 2020 after being told by Mr Johnson that he must sack all his advisers if he wished to keep his job.

He recently revealed the full details of his extraordinary row with the former prime minister and former No 10 adviser Dominic Cummings. The then chancellor told Mr Johnson at a showdown meeting: “It’s either me or Cummings.”

Mr Javid revealed in April that he had claimed non-domicile tax status for six years, when he was working as a banker, until 2009.

But The Independent revealed last July – when Mr Javid was running for the Tory leadership – that he had preserved some non-dom tax benefits through an offshore trust until 2012, a year after he joined the Treasury as a ministerial aide.

Among other politicians awarded honours this year are Mark Garnier, the Conservative MP for Wyre Forest and a former trade minister, who has been made an OBE, and the Tory MP for Erewash, Maggie Throup, who served as vaccines minister between 2021 and 2022 and also becomes an OBE.

Labour’s Ms Beckett, who was the first woman to serve as foreign secretary, will become a Dame Grand Cross after already being made a Dame Commander in 2013.

First elected in Lincoln in 1974, the now 80-year-old served as acting leader of the Labour Party in 1994 after the sudden death of John Smith. That year she ran for election to lead the party full-time, but lost to Tony Blair.

Former acting Labour leader Margaret Beckett has been made Dame Grand Cross

Labour’s Siobhain McDonagh, a party stalwart who has been an MP since 1997, will be made Dame Commander. Fellow Labour MP Yvonne Fovargue, the member for Makerfield, becomes a CBE. And their Labour colleague, mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees, is to be made an OBE.

Mr Martin, the outspoken founder of Wetherspoon pubs, has been knighted in the new year’s list – an award that was reportedly pushed for by a fellow Brexiteer in government, Kemi Badenoch.

According to reports in the Daily Mail, the business secretary argued behind the scenes that Brexit-supporting entrepreneurs should not be overlooked.

The businessman, a vocal Brexit supporter during the 2016 referendum, has been recognised for his services to hospitality and culture. He is reported to have donated £200,000 to the Vote Leave campaign.

“Everyone had a vote, everyone had a view, and I suppose I did more campaigning than most,” Mr Martin said. “I’d like to think that [the knighthood] is not for my rarely disclosed political views – I hope it is for what it says on the tin.”

The founder and chair of Wetherspoon, Tim Martin, has been an avid supporter of Brexit

Elsewhere, a British-born key witness at Donald Trump’s first impeachment hearing is also among those recognised in the new year honours.

Fiona Hill – a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, who attracted attention as a witness at the former US president’s first impeachment trial – is appointed Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George.

Professor John Edmunds, an epidemiologist who helped to advise the Boris Johnson government on handling the outbreak of Covid, has been honoured with a knighthood.

The expert at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said he was “amazed” but “a little bit embarrassed” by news of the honour. He said: “I’m just a normal bloke, it’s not the sort of thing that happens to someone like me.”

Erin Pizzey, a controversial feminist turned men’s rights activist, said she was “flabbergasted” to be included in the new year honours list as a CBE.

Having set up the first refuge for women fleeing domestic violence in 1971, she argued that women were more likely to commit domestic violence than men, which prompted a backlash from the feminist community.

Travis Frain, a survivor of the Westminster Bridge attack who has been made an OBE for his work to combat radicalism, said more support is needed to help victims of terror incidents.

Mr Frain, who was hit by a car driven by Khalid Masood during the attack in March 2017, said: “My only hope is that, with this honour, I am able to continue to drive home that message to get changes that are needed.”

Rishi Sunak congratulated all those who had made the list, saying they had “shown the highest commitment to selflessness and compassion” and were “an inspiration to us all”.

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