BAME MPs earn key posts in new Labour shadow Cabinet

Sir Keir Starmer (Photo: Hollie Adams/Getty Images).
Sir Keir Starmer (Photo: Hollie Adams/Getty Images).

NEW LABOUR leader Sir Keir Starmer unveiled his shadow Cabinet after he was elected the leader of the opposition on Saturday (4).

Sir Keir, a former director of public prosecutions who was known for his attention to detail when opposing the UK’s exit from the European Union, won with 56 per cent of the vote.

He pledged to bring an end to years of bitter infighting and to work with the government to contain the raging coronavirus pandemic.

Former leader Jeremy Corbyn’s ally Rebecca Long-Bailey came second in the party’s vote with 28 per cent and Lisa Nandy was third with 16 per cent.

Angela Rayner was elected as Sir Keir’s deputy.

Nandy, 40, who represents Wigan in parliament, was on Sunday (5) named as shadow foreign secretary.

She thanked Sir Keir for the “opportunity to serve” and said her first focus will be on the “pressing matter” of Britons stranded abroad due to the coronavirus pandemic worldwide lockdown.

In response to a congratulatory message from foreign secretary Dominic Raab, she said: “You can be assured of constructive opposition and I look forward to speaking at the earliest opportunity about the coronavirus crisis and the pressing matter of Britons stranded abroad.” Nandy is the daughter of India-born academic Dipak Nandy.

“It’s a real honour to be tasked with leading Labour’s foreign policy response in these difficult times,” she posted on Twitter soon after her shadow cabinet appointment.

Welsh MP Nick Thomas-Symonds is the new shadow home secretary, replacing Diane Abbott, and Oxford East MP Anneliese Dodds is the shadow chancellor.

Among other appointments, Tooting MP Dr Rosena Allin-Khan has been named shadow minister for mental health. She will work with shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth.

“I’ll be back on the NHS frontline in coming days!” the Pakistani-Polish MP, who does shifts at her local hospital in south London, said on Twitter on Monday (6).

Birmingham MP Preet Kaur Gill becomes shadow international development secretary, while Bristol MP Thangam Debbonaire becomes shadow housing secretary.

Long-Bailey was appointed as shadow education secretary, and Tottenham MP David Lammy said it was a “great honour” to be appointed shadow secretary of state for justice, “in these very challenging times”.

Emily Thornberry, who was shadow foreign secretary in Corbyn’s team, has been named the shadow international trade secretary, replacing Barry Gardiner, the MP for Brent North.

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband, who was succeeded by Corbyn, is the shadow business and energy secretary.

Marsha de Cordova is named shadow women and equalities secretary, replacing Brent Central MP Dawn Butler.

Valerie Vaz remains shadow leader of the house.

Sir Keir said his shadow cabinet “showcases the breadth, depth and talents of the Labour Party”

“This is a new team that will be relentlessly focused on acting in the national interest to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and rebuilding Labour so that it can win the next election.”

Rayner was also made the Labour Party chair.

In one of his first interviews after being appointed the party leader, Sir Keir said: “We just lost four elections in a row and therefore of course we need to change. If we don’t change, we will lose the next general election.”

India’s High Commissioner to the UK, Ruchi Ghanashyam, in her congratulatory message for Sir Keir, said: “I am confident that under your leadership the Labour Party will further strengthen its historic bonds with India and will build enduring bridges to connect with the Indian diaspora in the UK.”

Ties with the party became strained when last year – at the annual party conference – Labour adopted a motion on Kashmir that was criticised by several members of the Indian diaspora.