Sedwill Slams Cummings and Government’s Pandemic Preparedness

In his first wide-ranging post-job interview, former Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill told Laura Kuenssberg there is “a genuine question” about whether the UK could have been “better prepared” for Coronavirus; confessed to feeling “troubled” by attacks on the Civil Service; and admitted he felt Dominic Cummings’s infamous journey to County Durham during lockdown was a “mistake” that “clearly undermined” the government’s Covid rule narrative. No goodwill from Sedwill…

On Trump: Sedwill said the Special Relationship is stable and commended the Whitehouse for its diplomatic efforts in the Middle East:

“President Trump is a very unusual occupant of that office in his personal style and the way he articulates the US position but the underlying alliance is based on much more than the individual relationships at the top.”

On China and Russia: Sedwill says the UK mustn’t be “naive” when dealing with them:

“rhetoric [has suggested] that countries with very different political systems, essentially authoritarian political systems, are edging towards our values and viewing the world, then we’ve probably been mistaken and have overstated the natural alignment”

On Civil Service criticism:

“It is damaging to good governance and those responsible should recognise the damage they’re doing, even if they’re indulging themselves in some short-term tactical ploy,”

On Covid-preparedness:

“we didn’t have in place the exact measures, and we hadn’t rehearsed the exact measures… I think there is a genuine question about whether we could have been better prepared in the first place and that is obviously a very legitimate challenge.”

Laura should have asked Lord Sedwill what he’s planning on spending his £250,000 golden handshake on…

mdi-timer 21 October 2020 @ 09:00 21 Oct 2020 @ 09:00 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Vallance’s Telling Off by Whitty and Sedwill Over Lockdown Advocacy

A leaked email from Sir Patrick Vallance obtained via an FOI request has revealed when he “argued stronger than anyone for action for lockdown” he received “a telling off” from Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health and Social Care Chris Wormald and former Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill. Far from Cummings, it was the machinery of Whitehall that stood opposed…

The leaked email comes just days after MPs advocated a public enquiry into the handling of the pandemic. Convenient that private words of some advisers are getting out early…

Read the email in full below:

Read More

mdi-timer 14 September 2020 @ 13:30 14 Sep 2020 @ 13:30 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Boris’s Parting Gifts to Sedwill

Sir Mark attended his last ever Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, as Simon Case prepares to step up to the top civil service job. As a parting gift, Boris gave Sedwill sketches of Queen Elizabeth I’s Principal Secretary Francis Walsingham and Chief Minister to King Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell. Get the look: for the price of just £215, you too can own these classic portraits, purchased from Sanders of Oxford…

Given the current row over the Irish border, the gifts may not have been the most thought through. Thomas Cromwell extended royal rule over Ireland and exported Protestantism, while Walsingham supported plantations in the country, increasing tensions between the Irish and English settlers that “had lasting effects on the history of Ireland.” That, in the current context, doesn’t make this the best look…

mdi-timer 10 September 2020 @ 09:49 10 Sep 2020 @ 09:49 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Sedwill’s Pay Rise Complaints Brass Neck

Delivering a rare speech to the Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government last night, outgoing Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill told the audience that there is a need for a “fundamental review” of pay, progression and pensions in the civil service; claiming there has been a “decade of pay restraint” for mandarins. Guido’s heart bleeds…

“Over the past decade, part of the impetus for rising churn among our best officials has been a decade of pay restraint. Some of our most talented have gone… [there] should be a fundamental review of pay, progression, of pensions and of the ACOBA rules”

The bemoaning of civil servant pay shows particular brass neck coming as it did just a day after the Mail on Sunday revealed the staggering extent of bonuses being dished out in Whitehall, with Sir Mark himself pocketing a bonus of between £15,000–£20,000 this year – on top of his £205,000 salary and £250,000 exit settlement.

Other eye-watering taxpayer bonuses include:

  • £15,000–£20,000 for £270,000-a-year Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser Crawford Falconer
  • £5,000 for Home Office Director of Programming Diana Luchford
  • Up to £15,000 for outgoing visas and immigration boss Mark Thomson
  • Up to £10,000 for Immigration Enforcement Director General Tyson Hepple

Thankfully the civil service is reforming pay and bonuses – in the taxpayer’s favour with a £95,000 cap on redundancy payouts

mdi-timer 28 July 2020 @ 10:27 28 Jul 2020 @ 10:27 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Government to Finally Introduce Public Sector Redundancy Pay Out Cap

Five years after pledging it in the Tory election manifesto, and a year after then-Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss launched a consultation, the Government is finally set to introduce a public sector redundancy payments limit of £95,000. The decision comes just weeks after Sir Mark Sedwill raked in £250,000 from his premature sacking…

The decision appears to have come too late to be put in place this year, seemingly leading to the Treasury’s decision to scrap plans to phase in the cap in two stages; announcing it will “capture the whole public sector as soon as possible, with few exceptions”. Unsurprisingly the consultation notes that

a significant amount of responses… expressed concern over the inclusion of employer-funded early access to pensions (pension top-up payments) within scope of the exit payment cap and how this could affect long serving lower earning employees”.

Despite the consultation protests, a rare bout of civil service sense will see the cap include pension contributions. Meaning had it come in earlier, Sedwill’s leaving present would have been more than halved…

The TaxPayers’ Alliance’s James Roberts tells Guido
“This has been a long time coming, but fair play to ministers for standing up to meddling mandarins and preparing to implement this cap properly. Taking up our suggestions to include new public bodies is important – given the rate government are setting up these new quangos – and doing it in one tranche limits the loopholes departing Sir Humphreys can use to stuff their pockets on the way out. It’s just a shame the legislation had to wait until after Sedwill’s suspect golden goodbye.”

Presumably this will apply to all public bodies equally, like our national public service broadcaster the BBC and publicly owned Channel 4…

mdi-timer 22 July 2020 @ 14:02 22 Jul 2020 @ 14:02 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Sedwill’s £248,189 Payout Indicates Involuntary Dismissal

Cabinet Office communications last night confirmed Mark Sedwill is to be paid £248,189 after leaving his role as Cabinet Secretary and head of the civil service. The payment was described by the Cabinet Office as meeting “the tests required in Managing Public Money in respect of regularity, value for money, and feasibility.” Senior civil service sources tell Guido this is not the sort of expected payment we would see in the case of voluntary redundancy. Tacit admission of what Westminster already knew – Sedwill was sacked…

Read Boris’ letter approving the pension boost in full below:

mdi-timer 9 July 2020 @ 09:30 9 Jul 2020 @ 09:30 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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