Keir Starmer is reshuffling his top team for the second time in a year, as Labor seeks to profit from the government’s disarray over social care and the cost of living.
Cat Smith, who previously served on Jeremy Corbyn’s top team, tweeted that she would be stepping down. She suggested that Starmer had offered her the option of staying at her current post, but raised concerns about several issues, including the failure to restore the whip to Corbyn.
In her resignation letter, Smith described herself as “one of our few remaining ‘Red Wall’ Labor MPs.” Starmer has placed reclaiming the Red Wall seats at the heart of his plans for the party.
With Boris Johnson facing a series of backbench revolts in recent weeks and the poll rebound the Conservatives have pulled from the vaccine rollout seemingly fading, Labor is keen to take center stage.
Starmer would like to strengthen the party’s media position, as well as promote certain personalities perceived to have performed strongly in recent months.
He had hoped to make a larger reshuffle in May, following the loss of Hartlepool’s by-election, but more ambitious plans were thwarted by a furious standoff with his deputy, Angela Rayner, over a change of role.
Rayner was giving a major speech on the standards of public life on Monday as news of the impending reshuffle began to flow and made it clear that she had not been consulted – and didn’t think it was the right thing to do.
She told reporters at the event: “I don’t know the details of a reshuffle.”
“We need some consistency in how we approach things as the opposition,” she added, when asked if it was the right time for a reshuffle.
She stressed that Labor should be ‘focused on our coming to power’ and that if the party distracted its attention from that, it let people down.
Party sources said part of the rationale for the changes was that Labor’s shadow cabinet was significantly out of step with Johnson’s top team lineup.
The Labor Party continues to have a shadow secretary for development – Preet Gill – despite the fact that the department has been abolished, for example, while there is no formal shadow for the department to update. Michael Gove level.
It is understood that Ghost Communities Secretary Steve Reed and Shadow Housing Secretary Lucy Powell both see themselves as strong candidates for the role, which will be crucial with a white paper on the issue coming before Christmas.
Some party insiders have also suggested that shadow business secretary Ed Miliband could be sidelined, with the environment portion of his brief becoming a stand-alone role, to underscore the party’s commitment to tackling climate change.
A figure seen as more pro-business could then be promoted to follow Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, as Labor wants to increase its appeal to the corporate sector.
Shadow Chief Secretary of the Treasury Bridget Phillipson is expected to be promoted, potentially to this role. Chris Bryant, who has spearheaded the anti-sleaze cause in Parliament, has made it clear he would be keen on taking a prominent position.
A shadow minister echoed Rayner’s skepticism about reshuffling first place now, with the government in crisis and the Omicron variant raising new public health concerns.
“When the government takes a nosedive anyway, why would you want to bring it back to us?” ” they asked.
Since Starmer’s last reshuffle in May, in which Phantom Chancellor Anneliese Dodds was replaced by the more prominent Rachel Reeves, a slew of senior executives have also left her internal team.
These included his longtime adviser Ben Nunn and Chief of Staff Chris Ward, as well as political director Lady Chapman, now a spokesperson for the House of Lords.