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Emptying Whitehall

A recent tweet by Peter Riddell, director of the Institute for Government, read: “Turnover of Permanent Secretaries over six times that of Cabinet ministers since May 2010. Three depts will have 3 Perm Secs in two years.” A startling revelation—but why? One suggestion is that officials in their 50s, knowing they will go no higher, leave Whitehall for one last big executive job. Suma Chakrabarti, now at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and Helen Ghosh, who now runs the National Trust, are both examples. But tensions are also rising between permanent secretaries and secretaries of state,…

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