Starmer kicks off Labour reshuffle appearing to blindside deputy leader

29 November 2021, 12:14 | Updated: 29 November 2021, 16:16

Angela Rayner, Labour's deputy leader, said she was unaware of any reshuffle by Sir Keir Starmer.
Angela Rayner, Labour's deputy leader, said she was unaware of any reshuffle by Sir Keir Starmer. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

Sir Keir Starmer has kicked off his shadow cabinet reshuffle, appearing to blindside Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner who claims she was unaware of his plans.

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The Labour leader began shaking up his front bench team on Monday morning, with Shadow Secretary of State for Young People and Democracy, Cat Smith MP, resigning and returning to back benches.

In a statement on Twitter, she said it's been an "honour" to serve on the Labour front bench since 2015.

"I’m looking forward to spending even more time at home here in Lancashire and standing up for my constituents," she said.

In her letter Ms Smith warned Sir Keir about the "damage" Labour was suffering because former leader Jeremy Corbyn is not being re-admitted to the party.

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Her letter said: "You will be aware that we had a meeting scheduled for later this week, during which I wanted to raise the issue of, and my concerns about, Jeremy not being readmitted to the Parliamentary Labour Party after he was readmitted into our party membership following due process.

"This position is utterly unsustainable and it is important that you truly understand how much damage this is causing in Constituency Labour Parties and amongst ordinary members, a number of whom are no longer campaigning."

Shadow culture secretary Jo Stevens will also replace Nia Griffith as shadow Welsh secretary.

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Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner, who was giving a speech on standards, said she was not aware of any reshuffle in her party and appears to have been blindsided by the move.

"I've been concentrating on the job that I'm doing," she said.

She posted a tweet on Monday afternoon addressing Ms Smith's departure from the shadow cabinet, writing: "I want to thank @CatSmithMP for all of her work in my team especially in exposing and standing up against the Conservatives' anti-democratic power-grab Elections Bill.

"Cat is a brilliant local MP and I know she will continue to stand up for her constituents from the backbenches."

A spokesman for Sir Keir confirmed he is undertaking a reshuffle of his front bench team.