I resign with great regret, given there are serious ongoing issues that need addressing ranging from cost of living support, to legislation, & parliamentary debates.
It should not take the resignation of 50 colleagues, but sadly the PM has left us no choice. He needs to resign.
— Guy Opperman (@GuyOpperman) July 7, 2022
Guy Opperman’s resignation preceded by an hour news that the Prime Minister was stepping down as leader of the Conservative party and will resign as Prime Minister by October, by which time his successor will have been found.
My personal views is that the last wave of ministers resigning, of which Opperman was one, were probably aware that their actions would make this Government untenable. This may end up as a “technical resignation” with Opperman returning to post soon. The DWP’s offices in Caxton Street have revolving doors.
Earlier versions of this blog preceded this announcement from Guy Opperman.
Yesterday (all these troubles seemed so far away)
I felt for FT pension sleuth Jo Cumbo who found herself sidelined in Paris covering a world pension conference on one of the most politically fraught days Britain has seen since the ousting of Theresa May.
Rather than covering Guy Opperman’s two hour grilling at the Work and Pensions Committee, she was taking selfies on the Parisian boulevards and treating us to photos of people pontificating about ESG, illiquids and demographics, like they do back home.
The Work and Pensions Committee allowed Guy Opperman to opine on his Department’s strategy and performance for two hours, which he carried off pretty well. As he was grilled , Ministers and Private Secretaries were announcing their resignation on social media , including Opperman’s opposite number at the Treasury, John Glen.
— Henry Tapper (@henryhtapper) July 6, 2022
The DWP team had at the time survived relatively well with Therese Coffey apparently staying at post to make sure the lights in Caxton House stayed on. Only Mims Davies had resigned yesterday morning (but trouble was clearly afoot).
With Jo out of action , I and Prospect the Union were left to broadcast proceedings to twitter. You can watch the whole session via this link , though it lacked the intensity one might expect and I suspect that many of those on the Committee were rather more engaged with what was going on outside the room than in it.
John Glen’s announcement that he had resigned came as Guy Opperman was praising him for his work at the Treasury. We wondered whether Opperman’s antennae were tuned to twitter but no sign of a secret phone were evident.
The 2 hour cross-examination, which has proved to be Guy Opperman’s last in his current tenure, was unremarkable. Opperman is on firm ground on most matters and was able to use the last five minutes to lambast Steve Webb, who he claimed had not done his job on the state pension. His barbed comments would have landed harder if he’d remembered that LCP is a firm of actuaries – not lawyers!
One person who is on the ball about the state pension is Debbie Abrahams who asked incisive questions about the state pension age. If Opperman does return to post, he’d be well to read the latest tweets from David Robbins on ONS mortality data
1) OBR discusses how changes in mortality projections mean the rise in State Pension Age to 68 would be delayed until 2056 if HMG applied the “up to 32% of adult life in retirement principle” which it said in 2017 would be the long-term goal. pic.twitter.com/WPf5tEq9X8
— David Robbins (@David_J_Robbins) July 7, 2022
Debbie Abrahams is right to cast doubt about the need to raise the state pension age to 68 – quite as soon as planned.
So how does all this political stuff touch pensions?
I suspect – not much.
We hope that this turmoil will not further delay our legislative agenda
I’ve spoken to a few consultants about single code this week and everyone seems to think it will still be laid before the summer recess. 🤞
— Eve Keith (@EveK1979) July 7, 2022
A change of Chancellor and of John Glen in particular will be significant. It’s no secret that Glen and Opperman have clashed in the past and the big issue has been around CDC and Superfunds.
Whether the Treasury’s hard line , insisting on the PRA’s approach to solvency,will soften, allowing the DWP to run superfunds and CDC schemes without insurance style solvency – is open to question. Many would argue that positions are too entrenched to be changed by a new ministerial team at the Treasury.
In any event, a change of Prime Minister is likely to lead to further changes in the Treasury Team, even if the new Chancellor used his first day in office to demand the resignation of the man who’d appointed him.
The DWP appears to be stable and despite Guy Opperman’s reticence about his future, his session suggests that he has a roadmap which takes him beyond the next election (even if he isn’t driving).
If I have an observation to make, it is that politics has now become downgraded to a point that many of us , are really quite ashamed of being governed in such a way.
It cannot be doing much for national pride to see those who we have elected to represent us, behaving in ways that we would not countenance among our friends.
It was good to hear Debbie Abrahams call Guy Opperman one of “the more principled members of parliament” – he is, and so is she. We shouldn’t forget that there is a backbone of MPs , including those who sat on the WPC yesterday, who consider themselves public servants and act as such.
But I fear that media stars such as Nadine Dorries and Jacob Rees-Mogg will continue to prosper at a time when the hard-working determined ministers and committee members get little airtime
It seems a long-time ago since Theresa May stood on the steps of Downing Street and set out a genuinely one-nation agenda , right now we seem like a nation that has lost any sense of pride in its leadership.
Let us hope that that will soon change. Meanwhile, our beautiful island remains in sunshine! Plus ca change Jo!