Peston: Keir Starmer chooses the Labour team he actually rates

Credit: PA

Sir Keir Starmer has decisively abandoned the fatuous project of trying to form a frontbench team that could placate Labour's warring factions and has instead chosen shadow ministers for their perceived ability. In a comprehensive cull of shadow ministers he felt weren't cutting through, he has also disappointed those who were incredibly loyal supporters - like Nick Thomas-Symonds, demoted from home to international trade. Also, Starmer has stopped being embarrassed about promoting Labour MPs who were (like himself) passionate Remainers.

They include Peter Kyle - promoted to shadow Northern Ireland secretary, Pat McFadden - who becomes number two at the Treasury, and David Lammy - who will be a charismatic opposite number to the foreign secretary Liz Truss.

I am told Starmer has been plotting this reshuffle for days, and placed everyone he thought important in the jobs he had identified for them - which is a rare thing in a reshuffle. One of his colleagues told me: "I was immensely impressed with the way Keir made up his mind what he wanted to do and pushed it through, even when it upset friends". The most eye-catching appointment is inevitably that of Yvette Cooper. She replaces Thomas-Symonds in the home brief.

Cooper is widely seen as one of Labour's most effective performers, but has never until today been asked to join Starmer's frontbench team - largely because, I am told, Starmer has not had the confidence to choose his leadership group based purely on effectiveness.

One standout from the reshuffle is Yvette Cooper's return to the frontbench. Credit: Jonathan Brady / PA Images

The other big shift is that of Lisa Nandy to the levelling up, communities and housing brief, where she will challenge Michael Gove.

Again, this looks smart, since she is a northerner up against a metropolitan Tory, in a contest about how best to improve the living standards and prospects of those in the Midlands and North. There are big jobs too, health and education, for two of the parties' rising stars. Wes Streeting and Bridget Philipson, respectively. The one cost to Starmer is that his deputy, Angela Rayner, has again made it clear she feels he has embarrassed her, because he shared with her only late that he was changing the front bench team and none of the detail.

But in the long history of the Labour Party, leaders rarely solicit advice from their deputies on reshuffles, and that history is traditionally a story of tensions between the number one and the number two (think Blair/Prescott, Kinnock/Hattersley and so on).

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner appeared to have been blindsided by the reshuffle. Credit: PA

One of Rayner's allies said that after the reshuffle, "a 'joint leadership' doesn't seem apparent'". Starmer won't mind the perception that he's in charge. And he will hope, which feels reasonable, that Labour's team will be seen to be much more effectively challenging Johnson's. The one Labour rising star who may feel disappointed not to be in the shadow cabinet is Jess Phillips.

I am told she narrowly missed a place, because the size of the shadow cabinet has been shrunk, which won't be much comfort to her. As for Labour's Corbynistas and its left, they will feel spurned and insulted.

How much they translate that animosity into explicit conflict with Starmer will depend on whether they put ideology and amour propre ahead of the party's electoral prospects.