The new health secretary has said that his priority is to return the country to ‘normal as soon and as quickly as possible’.
In a message to broadcasters today, Sajid Javid paid tribute to predecessor Matt Hancock, saying the former health secretary had ‘more to offer in public life’.
Mr Javid was appointed health secretary hours after the resignation of Mr Hancock, following leaked pictures showing him kissing an aide.
Mr Javid said this morning: ‘I just want to start by saying I think Matt Hancock worked incredibly hard. He achieved a lot, and I’m sure he will have more to offer in public life.
‘I was honoured to take up this position. I also know that it comes with huge responsibility. And I will do everything I can to make sure that I deliver for the people of this great country.
‘We are still in a pandemic and I want to see that come to an end as soon as possible, and that will be my most immediate priority – to see that we can return to normal as soon and as quickly as possible.
‘Now, I’ve got a lot of work to do. I’m sure you appreciate that. And if you can excuse me, I’d like to get on with it.’
Last year Mr Javid said that he felt the country should be looking to move out of lockdown earlier to support the economy.
In an interview with Sky – highlighted by its political correspondent Rob Powell– Mr Javid said in May 2020: ‘We’re going to have to co-exist with this virus for I think many months, if not potentially years. But we’ve got to find a way forward and that does mean you’re relaxing, as much as you can.
‘As well as listening to the scientists we also need to think carefully about the impact on the rest of society and the economy and jobs and wider social impacts and that does mean, I think, that when it comes to opening up you want to go as far and as quick as you can.’
Mr Javid has previously been home secretary and chancellor. Like his two immediate predecessors, Mr Hancock and Jeremy Hunt, he is a previous culture secretary.
Before entering politics, he worked in business and finance. Aged 25, he became a Vice President at Chase Manhattan Bank. He later moved to Deutsche Bank in London.
Mr Hancock apologised in his letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson for breaking guidance. He added: ‘We owe it to the people who have sacrificed so much in this pandemic to be honest when we have let them down as I have done by breaching the guidance.’