The key moves in Keir Starmer’s make-or-break shadow cabinet reshuffle…
Nick Brown – SACKED as party’s chief whip
Anneliese Dodds – SACKED as shadow chancellor; but HIRED as party chair
Angela Rayner – SACKED as party chair and party campaign coordinator; but HIRED as the shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Rachel Reeves – HIRED as the new shadow chancellor
Alan Campbell – HIRED as party’s chief whip
Thangam Debbonaire – HIRED as shadow Commons leader
Valerie Vaz – SACKED as shadow Commons leader
West Streeting – HIRED as shadow cabinet member for child poverty
Lucy Powell – HIRED as shadow housing secretary
An embattled Sir Keir Starmer last night rearranged his deckchairs as he chopped and changed parts of his shadow cabinet in a make-or-break reshuffle.
In a bold but not unexpected move, the stumbling Labour leader demoted party favourite Anneliese Dodds from the key role of shadow chancellor.
She was replaced by Oxford educated former Bank of England economist Rachel Revees – a trusted ally of Sir Keir.
In the most left-field move of the night, the Labour leader sacked veteran MP Nick Brown as the party’s chief whip.
Then, in a dramatic twist to earlier events, Sir Keir reinstated Angela Rayner to his front bench – hours after axing her from her role as party chair and campaign coordinator.
In what some now consider a promotion from her previous role, the deputy party leader will now take Michael Gove to task as Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
Ms Dodds will replace her as party chair. However, according to some reports, Ms Rayner will still have significant influence over internal party matters.
Mr Brown meanwhile will be replaced as chief whip by Alan Campbell.
Thangam Debbonaire has been moved to shadow Commons leader, replacing Valerie Vaz.
Centrist figure Wes Streeting will take the shadow cabinet role for child poverty, while Lucy Powell, a key figure from the Miliband years, will step into the role as shadow housing secretary.
The reshuffle comes amid the continuing fallout of the party’s poor local election showing and humiliating Hartlepool by-election defeat.
Last night, after the reshuffle was announced, Sir Keir said that the Labour party ‘must change’. He also promised a ‘relentless focus on the priorities of the British people’.
An embattled Sir Keir Starmer tonight swung the axe as he chopped and changed his shadow cabinet in a make-or-break reshuffle
In a bold, but not entirely unsurprising move, the stumbling Labour leader demoted Anneliese Dodds (pictured right) from the important role of shadow chancellor. He replaced her with Oxford educated former Bank of England worker Rachel Revees (pictured left) – a key ally of Ed Miliband during his spell as Labour leader.
In the most left-field move of the night, the Labour leader sacked veteran MP Nick Brown (pictured left) as the party’s chief whip. And in a dramatic twist, Sir Keir reinstated Angela Rayner (pictured right) to his front bench, after earlier axing her from the important role of party chair.
Thangam Debbonaire (pictured left) has been moved to shadow Commons leader, replacing Valerie Vaz (pictured right)
In a statement, he said: ‘The Labour Party must be the party that embraces the demand for change across our country.
‘That will require bold ideas and a relentless focus on the priorities of the British people.
‘Just as the pandemic has changed what is possible and what is necessary, so Labour must change too.’
New by-election woe for Keir Starmer as ex-Coronation Street actress Tracy Brabin wins race to be West Yorkshire mayor
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer faces the potential of yet more by-election woe after one of his MPs last night secured a mayoral seat.
MP Tracy Brabin made history by being elected as the first ever West Yorkshire mayor – and the first female metro mayor in England.
But it means former Coronation Street star Ms Brabin, who also celebrates her 60th birthday today, will now have to step down from her Westminster seat of Batley and Spen.
It will spark a fresh by-election in the marginal Labour constituency – which has now become a key Conservative target.
The bitter-sweet Labour win in the West Yorkshire mayoral vote comes just days after the party’s poor performance in the local elections and its humiliating by-election defeat in Hartlepool.
The constituency, part of Labour’s ‘Red Wall’, turned blue in Thursday’s by-election as it was won by the Conservatives for the first time in the seat’s 47-year history.
And, with Labour holding an even tighter majority in Batley and Spen, there will now likely be fear among the party’s top table of another by-election defeat when voters in the constituency head to the ballot boxes.
Labour had a 4,000 majority in Hartlepool from the 2019 election. But in a historic by-election win for the Tories on Thursday, the party won the seat by almost 7,000 votes.
The seat has been held by Labour since 1997, including from 2014 by MP Jo Cox – who was murdered in 2015 by a far-right knifeman.
However the reshuffle, which came amid a myriad of finger pointing in the wake of Labour’s dismal election results, appears to have done little to fix the cracks in the party.
Last night, an ally of Ms Rayner, whose earlier sacking had caused outcry from both the left and moderate wings of the party, told the Times: ‘There’s more confusion because of this chaotic shambolic reshuffle.’
The ally insisted Ms Rayner would still play a significant role in internal party matters through her role as position as deputy leader – to which she was elected.
The rise of Ms Reeve will be one of the big talking points of the reshuffle.
First elected to represent Leeds West in 2010, within six months she was the shadow minister for pensions.
After subsequent roles at shadowing in the Treasury and Department for Work and Pensions, Ms Reeves assumed the role of shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster – opposite Michael Gove – when Sir Keir became party leader.
She was good friends with constituency neighbour Jo Cox, who was killed in 2016.
Paying a tearful tribute to her colleague in the Commons days after her death, Ms Reeves said of Ms Cox: ‘Batley and Spen will go on, to elect a new MP, but no one can replace a mother.’
Politics runs in the family, and Ms Reeves is married to a former private secretary and speech writer of Gordon Brown.
Her younger sister, Ellie also has a seat in Parliament as the Labour MP for Lewisham West and Penge, and serves as the shadow Solicitor General.
Before arriving in Westminster, Ms Reeves worked as an economist at the Bank of England and the British Embassy in Washington DC.
Ms Dodds meanwhile will take up the important role of party chair.
Labour MP for Oxford East since June 2017, Ms Dodds was an MEP for South East England for four years before taking her seat on the opposition benches.
A year after her election, she was made shadow financial secretary to the Treasury, before receiving her promotion to the shadow front bench in April last year.
A mother of two young children, 43-year-old Ms Dodds’ media skills were put to the test just days into her role as shadow chancellor, when her daughter burst in during an interview with Sky News.
‘I thought she was going to stay asleep, sorry… so embarrassing,’ Ms Dodds said when asked about the moment at the interview’s close.
‘She’s thankfully under the chair now.’
Ms Dodds has now been relegated to the role of party chairman and chair of Labour Policy Review.
Before politics, Aberdeen-born Ms Dodds worked as an academic and it is thought her research focused on public policy and risk in different industries, sectors and nations.
It comes after Ms Rayner was effectively sacked as party chair yesterday, sparking anger from left-wingers and moderates, with claims the Ashton-under-Lyne MP is being made to carry the can for Sir Keir’s mistakes.
Keir Starmer dropped a bombshell by sacking Angela Rayner (pictured together last week) as Labour Party chairwoman – although because she is the elected deputy leader he does not have powers to axe her altogether
Ms Rayner was elected as party deputy leader separately to Sir Keir, meaning he cannot axe her entirely – with even his normal supporters conceding it was a ‘bad idea’.
However, there were claims that some ministers were discussing simply refusing to take other jobs.
There were claims that he faced the threat of a mass walk-out.
Yesterday, Liverpool MP Kim Johnson took aim directly at Sir Keir saying shifting Ms Rayner was an ‘appalling act of cowardice’.
Corbynite former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott also waded into the spat, saying the decision to move Ms Rayner was ‘baffling’ and demanding Sir Keir reverts to ‘popular’ hard-Left policies.
‘She didn’t take any of the big decisions around Hartlepool and we’ve not heard anywhere in the country people saying they didn’t vote Labour because of Angela Rayner,’ she said.
And Jon Trickett, who was sacked by Sir from the shadow cabinet last year, tweeted: ‘I don’t think we should rule out a leadership challenge.’
Liverpool MP Kim Johnson took aim directly at Sir Keir saying shifting Ms Rayner was an ‘appalling act of cowardice’
With almost all the council results in for England, Labour has lost more than 300 seats while the Tories are up more than 200
Diane Abbott demands return to ‘popular’ hard-Left policies
Diane Abbott today demanded Keir Starmer returns to the ‘popular’ Socialist policies from the Jeremy Corbyn era
Diane Abbott today demanded Keir Starmer returns to the ‘popular’ Socialist policies from the Jeremy Corbyn era as Labour plunged further into civil war.
The former shadow home secretary lashed out at Sir Keir as she insisted Mr Corbyn only led the party to its worst general election defeat since 1935 due to an ‘extraordinary media attack’.
Ms Abbott also waded into the spat over the ‘sacking’ of Angela Rayner from the key role as Labour chair, saying the decision was ‘baffling’.
The intervention came as Sir Keir mounted a desperate bid to save his shattered leadership after the dire Super Thursday results – kicking off a reshuffle and drafting in a New Labour pollster as his strategy chief.
Speaking to Sky News’ Ridge On Sunday, Ms Abbott, who described the Hartlepool by-election loss as ‘distressing’, said: ‘I think we need to be building on the policies in the 2019 manifesto, many of which were forward-thinking and popular.
‘We need to get the strategy right.’
Told that Mr Corbyn’s manifesto had failed, Ms Abbott added: ‘It was a manifesto that, taking the policies individually, was very popular.’
She went on: ‘We won Hartlepool twice under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and, importantly, with a bigger proportion of the vote.
‘You can’t say that Jeremy is responsible for the Hartlepool result. The disaffection in post-industrial Britain long predates Jeremy’s leadership and we have to look at the roots of it.’
Ms Mattinson worked as a Labour pollster until the party was ejected from power in 2010, and after Jeremy Corbyn’s 2019 general election defeat – the party’s worst performance since 1935 – penned a book analysing the collapse of the Red Wall.
She is due to leave BritainThinks, the research and consultancy company she co-founded, to take up her role as the party’s strategy director next month.
Ms Mattinson said: ‘I am very much looking forward to joining Keir Starmer and his team.
‘The coming months will be challenging but I will be proud to play a part in helping Labour reconnect with the voters it has lost.’
There was a small bright spot for Labour last night as Sadiq Khan retained his job as London Mayor, although Tory candidate Shaun Bailey far exceeded expectations and slashed his majority.
They also secured the Cambridge and Peterborough mayoralty as the dramatic realignment of the UK’s political landscape continues.
However, in the latest punishing results from other key battlegrounds the Conservatives gained control of Amber Valley in Derbyshire from Labour, after winning 13 of the 16 seats being contested.
Labour was seemingly unable to find anyone to make the case for Sir Keir on the BBC’s flagship Marr Show political programme yesterday.
In more evidence of the bitter war threatening to tear Labour apart, details of Ms Rayner’s use of first class rail tickets were leaked to the Sunday Times. Her allies insisted she only did so for safety reasons after the murder of Sarah Everard.
Ms Rayner is a survivor from the Corbyn era, and the defenestration of the party’s most senior woman – who represents a Northern seat – from a key role sparked a backlash from all sides.
Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell pointed out that Sir Keir had promised on Friday to take ‘full responsibility for the election result in Hartlepool & other losses’, but was now ‘scapegoating everyone apart from himself’. ‘This isn’t leadership it’s a cowardly avoidance of responsibility,’ the Corbynite said.
Mr McDonnell told the Marr Show that ditching Ms Rayner as national campaign co-ordinator was a ‘huge mistake’.
‘I haven’t spoken to Angie. And let me be clear, I don’t have any brief for Angie – I didn’t support her as deputy leader, I supported Richard Burgon,’ he said.
‘When the leader of the party on Friday said he takes responsibility for the election result in Hartlepool in particular and then scapegoats Angela Rayner, I think many of us feel that is unfair, particularly as we all know actually that Keir’s style of leadership is that his office controls everything.
‘It is very centralised and he controlled the campaign, so many of us think it is really unfair.
‘What public relations genius thought this was a good move on the very day, actually, we were having successes – Andy Burnham in Manchester, Steve Rotheram in Liverpool, Paul Dennett in Salford, Marvin down in Bristol, Sadiq in London.
‘The very day we’re recovering a bit and having successes, then they do this. I just think it is a huge mistake.’
A Labour source said: ‘Keir said he was taking full responsibility for the result of the elections and he said we need to change. That means changing how we run our campaigns in future. Angela will continue to play a senior role in Keir’s team.’