Labour leadership frontrunner candidate Keir Starmer has pledged to offer his two rivals in the contest, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy, “top jobs” in the shadow cabinet if he wins the contest in April.
Asked at the official party hustings today whether fellow contenders would have a place in their frontbench teams, Starmer replied: “I would happily offer both of these brilliant candidates a top job in the shadow cabinet”.
The Holborn MP added that he would “happily serve them” in their shadow cabinets “if they wanted me to do the same” – a comment for which he received much applause at the Durham event.
At an official hustings held in Glasgow last weekend, Starmer was asked the same question and refused to guarantee Long-Bailey or Nandy jobs, instead saying: “I don’t think any of us are going to get into jostling for positions on this.”
Long-Bailey said: “I feel a bit sad that Keir doesn’t want us in his shadow cabinet. I know we don’t agree all the time, and our visions are probably very different, but we meet on areas of common ground, and that’s what would make us a strong shadow cabinet and I would have Keir and Lisa in my shadow cabinet.”
But the frontrunner, who gained during more than 58% of local party nominations cast in the leadership race, decided today to confirm – as Long-Bailey and Nandy have done – that he would give top posts to his remaining rivals.
During the latest hustings, Starmer said: “I really want to pay tribute to Lisa and Becky because both of them, I think, are excellent candidates, sincerely and genuinely putting forward very powerful cases they think are right for our party, our movement and the country.”
In response, Lisa Nandy joked that Starmer’s comments were so kind “I’m starting to think he might give me his first preference”. She also said Long-Bailey had suggested that the candidates have “one drink for every hustings we’ve done” together once the race ends.
Labour’s leadership and deputy leadership elections will see ballots start dropping from Monday, February 24th, and the results of the contests are set to be announced at a special party conference on April 4th.