John McDonnell confirms he won't join Starmer's shadow cabinet - but lists who should

12 May 2021, 13:54

By Fiona Jones

Former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell quashes rumours that he would be willing to join Sir Keir Starmer's shadow cabinet - but tells LBC who he should be there instead.

The Labour MP told LBC's Iain Dale in an hour-long sit down that he would not be willing to rejoin the shadow cabinet if asked by the current Labour leader.

The question came after Sir Keir undertook a shadow cabinet reshuffle following the party's disastrous losses in the Super Thursday elections, during which they 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 her 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.

If propositioned by Sir Keir, he told Iain he'd say, "I'm really enjoying myself at the moment on the back benches being an elder statesman, but can I recommend to you a number of names?"

He said he would back Richard Burgon and Rebecca Long-Bailey, the former shadow education secretary who was removed from Sir Keir's top team after she retweeted an article that was deemed as having anti-Semitic content.

"Becky Long-Bailey was in my team and she was one of the sharpest I'd ever met," he said, branding the retweet "unfortunate", adding that she was "brilliant in my team."

Read more: Keir Starmer should 'drop it' and restore whip to Corbyn, says John McDonnell

Mr McDonnell also promoted Richard Burgon's abilities: "If you look at what he did on the justice brief he was excellent. I think he was one of the sharpest shadow cabinet ministers that we had and he was good on his feet on the floor of the house. I know there's been denigration in the media but they're not necessarily our best friends.

"People underestimate him - a good, young lawyer, knows his stuff. I think held the Government well to account."

Iain commented that there are promising young Labour MPs, such as Florence Eshalomi who he predicts could be the first female Labour leader and first female Labour Prime Minister.

Mr McDonnell the whole host of bright young women in the Labour Party: Zarah Sultana, Apsana Begum, Nadia Whittome, Olivia Blake and Rachel Hopkins.

"There's a hell of a team there for the future."

You can watch the full interview again here.