Sir Keir Starmer reshuffles shadow cabinet with Angela Rayner given new role

9 May 2021, 22:24 | Updated: 10 May 2021, 15:49

Sir Keir Starmer is planning a shadow cabinet reshuffle on Sunday
Sir Keir Starmer carried out a shadow cabinet reshuffle on Sunday. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has carried out a shadow cabinet reshuffle on Sunday following the party's terrible performance at the ballot box this week.

It comes after the party suffered disastrous losses in the Super Thursday elections, during which Labour lost the "red wall" seat of Hartlepool to the Tories for the first time in its nearly 50-year history.

The shadow chancellor, Anneliese Dodds, has been removed from that role while Nick Brown will no longer be Chief Whip.

Rachel Reeves will take over as Shadow Chancellor, in opposition to Rishi Sunak, while Mr Brown has been replaced with Alan Campbell.

On Saturday, Sir Keir sacked deputy leader Angela Rayner as party chair and national campaign coordinator but she will take up a new role as Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Shadow First Secretary.

Lisa Nandy remains as Shadow Foreign Secretary despite speculation she might lose the job, and Thangam Debbonaire has been moved to Shadow Commons Leader.

Sir Keir 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."

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A Labour Party source told LBC's Ben Kentish of Ms Rayner's position, when reports emerged she had been sacked as party chairman: "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."

Labour lost control of Durham County Council for the first time in a century, saw its leader deposed by the Greens in Sheffield and also witnessed heavy defeats in Rotherham and Sunderland at local authority level.

As well as undertaking a reshuffle, the former director of public prosecutions has also hired Gordon Brown's former chief pollster Deborah Mattinson - who has written a book about why Labour lost the so-called "red wall" at the 2019 general election - as director of strategy.

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Although Labour sources on Saturday evening were keen to stress that Ms Rayner - a former social care worker who hails from Stockport in the North West - would "continue to play a senior role" in Sir Keir's team, prominent figures in the party spoke out against the decision to remove her as chairman.

Mr Burnham - tipped as a potential successor to Sir Keir after winning a thumping majority to secure a second term as Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester - tweeted: "I can't support this.

"This is straightforwardly wrong if it's true."

Members of former leader Jeremy Corbyn's team, who come from the left of the party, were among those to criticise the move to "scapegoat" the deputy leader, with John McDonnell labelling it a "huge mistake".

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said it was his "understanding" that Ms Rayner would "take a different position in the shadow cabinet".