Labour reshuffle seeks to present party as the next government in waiting

Sir Keir Starmer has had a rejig of his shadow cabinet ahead of the next election, ITV News Political Correspondent Shehab Khan reports

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer sought to put his party on election footing, in a shakeup of his top front bench team on Monday. The most senior positions shadowing the offices of state – the shadow chancellor, shadow home secretary and shadow foreign secretary – have remained unchanged, leaving Rachel Reeves, Yvette Cooper and David Lammy in post. But the reshuffle has seen key allies and influential figures within the political right of the party promoted to the middle ranks of the shadow frontbench, as Labour seeks to position itself as the next government in waiting.

Former Tony Blair adviser Pat McFadden will now serve as national campaign coordinator and shadow minister in the cabinet office. He previously held the role of shadow chief secretary to the Treasury. The return of Hilary Benn to shadow cabinet is also notable.

The MP for Leeds Central served within the governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown between 2002 and 2010 and was sacked from his position as shadow foreign secretary by the then labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in 2016.

He will now serve as shadow Northern Ireland secretary.

And in a mark of her influence within the parliamentary Labour party and wider party grassroots, Angela Rayner has been appointed shadow deputy prime minister.

She is also now shadow leveling up secretary, a brief which covers housing policy – set to be a key focus for both parties in the upcoming general election.

Angela Rayner has been appointed shadow deputy prime minister and shadow leveling up secretary in the latest reshuffle. Credit: PA

The Labour shadow cabinet now closely mirrors that of Rishi Sunak’s government, which in February of this year created a handful of new departments including one for energy security and net zero.

Peter Kyle – who was the shadow Northern Ireland secretary - has now been appointed shadow secretary of state for the department for Science, Innovation and Technology.

Lisa Nandy, whose leaning is to the left of the party, has been moved from her position as shadow levelling up secretary to shadow minister for international development.

Lisa Nandy was demoted during the reshuffle to cover international development Credit: Peter ByrnePA

The move has been widely regarded as a demotion for the MP who stood against Sir Keir in the 2020 Labour leadership election,

One ally close to Nandy said she was “proud” of her work “spearheading” policy on housing and devolution.

“Lisa is a team player and looks forward to getting stuck into the new role,” they added.

Meanwhile, Rosena Allin-Khan who served as shadow cabinet minister for mental health resigned from her position on Monday morning.

In a public letter to Sir Keir confirming that she would now serve from the backbenches, she noted the leader had made it clear he did not “see a space for a mental health portfolio in a Labour cabinet”.

The left-leaning campaign group Momentum criticised the reshuffle arguing that it represented a "further narrowing behind a Blairite agenda," in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. But those close to Sir Keir have argued to me that the reshuffle reflects the need to get those with experience of government and campaigning into senior positions.

It is part of wider efforts by the party to outline its vision for the country ahead of the next general election.

The reshuffle comes as the Conservative government is facing a series of challenges from high inflation, a growing scandal over the use of Raac in public sector buildings and migrant crossings on the English Channel.

Recent polling by YouGov has revealed that 44% of those polled would back Labour compared to just 24% who vote for the Conservatives. Next month, Labour MPs will gather in Liverpool for party conference - the next big challenge for Sir Keir will be convincing his MPs, as well as members, that his new team can deliver on policy and inspire voters to back them at the polls.

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