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Labour reshuffle: who’s up and who’s down in Keir Starmer’s shake-up

·5-min read
<span>Photograph: Mark Thomas/Rex/Shutterstock</span>
Photograph: Mark Thomas/Rex/Shutterstock

Key role goes to Yvette Cooper in leader’s radical overhaul of his shadow cabinet


Going up

Yvette Cooper – shadow home secretary

Cooper is making a return to the brief she held under Ed Miliband, when she faced then-home secretary Theresa May across the dispatch box.

After a failed tilt at the leadership in 2015, Cooper went to the backbenches under Jeremy Corbyn, later serving as chair of the home affairs select committee. Cooper will now be one of the few former cabinet ministers from the Gordon Brown era on Labour’s frontbench, having served as work and pensions secretary from 2008 to 2010.

David Lammy – shadow foreign secretary

The former shadow justice secretary is one of the most prominent Windrush campaigners, giving a speech in 2018 on the subject that left the Commons in stunned silence. Lammy is one of the few cabinet ministers with experience serving in government: previously holding ministerial roles in the departments of health, culture and education.

  • Deputy leader Angela Rayner

  • Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves

  • Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds

  • Shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband

  • Shadow cabinet secretary Jenny Chapman

  • Shadow defence secretary John Healey

  • Shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell

  • Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson

  • Shadow environment secretary Jim McMahon

  • Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy

  • Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting

  • Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper

  • Shadow international trade secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds

  • Shadow justice secretary Steve Reed

  • Shadow levelling up secretary Lisa Nandy

  • Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh

  • Shadow women and equalities secretary Anneliese Dodds

  • Shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Ashworth

  • Shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry

  • Shadow minister for mental health Rosena Allin-Khan

  • Shadow minister for international development Preet Gill

  • Shadow Treasury chief secretary Pat McFadden

  • Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Peter Kyle

  • Shadow Scotland secretary Ian Murray

  • Shadow Wales secretary Jo Stevens

  • National campaign coordinator Shabana Mahmood

  • Shadow leader of the House of Commons Thangam Debbonaire

  • Shadow leader of the House of Lords Angela Smith

  • Shadow chief whip Alan Campbell

  • Opposition chief whip in the House Roy Kennedy

Wes Streeting – shadow health and social care secretary

Perhaps best known for speaking about his upbringing on free school meals, Streeting previously described his move to the shadow cabinet (as shadow minister for child poverty) as “a proper Labour story” of social mobility.

A fierce critic of the Labour far left, Streeting was one of the most outspoken critics of Corbyn’s leadership. Before being elected to represent Ilford North in 2015, he was head of education at Stonewall and is a former president of the National Union of Students.

Lucy Powell – shadow digital, culture, media and sport secretary

A former chief of staff to Ed Miliband, Powell worked with senior Conservative MPs to try for a Brexit compromise during the last government. She is a former shadow education secretary, and more recently has been in the shadow housing role. Powell was heavily involved in producing the Labour Together report on the 2019 election defeat, much of which was taken on board by Starmer’s team.

Going sideways

Lisa Nandy – shadow levelling up secretary

Known for her long campaign for Labour to focus more on understanding the concerns of voters who live in towns rather than metropolitan cities, Lisa Nandy was one of just three candidates who made it on to the ballot paper during the 2020 leadership election.

She came third but was given a senior role as foreign secretary by Starmer straight from the backbenches – her first role in the shadow cabinet since 2016, when she was shadow energy and climate change secretary. Labour insiders regard her as an authentic and effective communicator key to winning back “red wall” seats the party lost in the 2019 general election.

Related: Cooper, Lammy and Nandy among beneficiaries of Starmer’s ruthless reshuffle

Jonathan Ashworth – shadow work and pensions secretary

One of the few shadow cabinet ministers to keep his job during the change of leadership from Jeremy Corbyn to Starmer, Ashworth was kept on in the health role as the coronavirus pandemic raged through the UK last spring.

As MP for Leicester South, he was critical of the city being the only place that faced tougher restrictions despite the rest of England exiting lockdown. He outlasted Matt Hancock – who resigned for breaking social distancing rules – but was told the news about his move while at home self-isolating with Covid.

Jonathan Reynolds – shadow business secretary

Reynolds had been the shadow work and pensions secretary since April 2020. He served in Corbyn’s shadow cabinet but subsequently resigned in 2016 and supported Owen Smith’s leadership challenge.

However, he was one of those who made it back into the fold, serving again under Corbyn as a shadow city minister. He will now be expected to improve Labour’s reputation with business.

Ed Miliband
Ed Miliband becomes shadow climate change and net zero secretary
Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Going down

Ed Miliband – shadow climate change and net zero secretary

The former Labour leader spent much of Cop26 in Glasgow delivering broadsides at the government over its failure to tackle the climate crisis. However, some of Miliband’s colleagues have long questioned whether he is at home in the business part of his brief – a key challenge at a time when Labour is keen to burnish its credentials with the corporate sector. He has now lost half his brief.

Nick Thomas-Symonds – shadow trade secretary

A former barrister and Oxford don, 41-year-old Thomas-Symonds is a genuine Labour intellectual – the author of biographies of Clement Attlee and Nye Bevan, as well as a forthcoming one of Harold Wilson. He represents the Welsh seat of Torfaen, where he grew up, and has been trying to reposition Labour as a strong supporter of the police, and tough on crime. He is moving from his role as shadow home secretary.

Cat Smith – no longer on Labour frontbench

As Cat Smith said in her resignation letter to Keir Starmer, since becoming MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood in 2015 she has spent all but a few months on the frontbenches. An early supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, she became a junior equalities minister under him just four months after entering parliament. Her loyalty to him was clear when she stood down as shadow cabinet Office minister on Monday, saying in a parting message to Starmer that it was “utterly unsustainable” Corbyn had not been given the party whip.

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