Esther McVey resigns over Brexit deal

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Esther McVey, has resigned over Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

In a letter to the Prime Minister today, 15 November, McVey said that the deal “did not honour the results of the referendum” and therefore she “cannot defend the deal”.

It is unclear who will follow McVey, however, pensions policy is still likely to be shaped by current Pensions Minister Guy Opperman and the Treasury, according to Royal London director of policy, Steve Webb.

In her letter, McVey wrote: “Repeatedly you have said that we must regain control of our money, our borders and our laws and develop our own independent trade policy. I have always supported you to deliver on those objectives … This deal fails to do this.

“I cannot defend the deal and I cannot vote for this deal. I could not look my constituents in the eye were I to do that. I, therefore, have no alternative but to resign from government."

McVey added that it had been a “huge honour” to serve in the role and that she was “immensely proud” in the part she has played to secure “record levels of employment”.

McVey, elected as the MP for Tatton in 2017, was appointed Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on 8 January 2018. She preceded David Gauke who spent six months in the role.

The decision leaves in the balance a number of key policy areas, including the pensions dashboard and defined benefit consolidation.

In July, she found herself in the spotlight of the pensions industry over suggestions that she was looking to “kill off” the pensions dashboard.

In October, she reiterated her support for the project to be industry led, it is unclear where her resignation will now leave the dashboard project.

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference on 1 October, McVey said the party was delivering a “delivering a private pensions revolution”.

“More people than ever are saving into a workplace pension up nearly 50 per cent in the last six years, and significantly driven by younger people. Through automatic-enrolment, we have helped create almost 10 million new pension savers,” she said.

“And we will be giving people the opportunity to access their pension information through an industry-led pension dashboard, building on the government’s check your state pension online service.”

The government has been highly criticised for the role out of Universal Credit, under her tenure, after it was announced in the Budget that the project would be given an extra £4.5bn to be implemented safely.

Webb said: “Whoever succeeds Esther McVey at the Department for Work and Pensions will have a lot to do as they continue work on Universal Credit and disability benefits. As a result, they will have little time to shape pensions policy.

With this in mind the key people shaping pensions policy will remain Treasury and the DWP’s pension minister.”

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