Shadow cabinet reshuffle liveblog: Starmer’s big changes revealed in full

Sienna Rodgers
© Rupert Rivett/

Welcome to LabourList’s November 2021 shadow cabinet reshuffle liveblog. Changes to the opposition party frontbench kicked off on Monday morning – starting, controversially, during Angela Rayner’s speech on ‘cleaning up politics’. This liveblog has now closed.

19.52 – Here’s the full confirmed list:

Labour’s Shadow Cabinet is as follows:

Deputy Leader, Shadow First Secretary of State, Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Shadow Secretary of State for the Future of Work: Angela Rayner
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer: Rachel Reeves
Shadow Secretary of State for Business and Industrial Strategy: Jonathan Reynolds
Shadow Secretary of State of Climate Change and Net Zero: Ed Miliband
Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, Communities & Local Government: Lisa Nandy
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence: John Healey
Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport: Lucy Powell
Shadow Secretary of State for Education: Bridget Phillipson
Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Jim McMahon
Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Affairs: David Lammy
Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care: Wes Streeting
Shadow Secretary of State for the Home Department: Yvette Cooper
Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade: Nick Thomas-Symonds
Shadow Minister of State at the Cabinet Office: Jenny Chapman
Shadow Secretary of State for Justice: Steve Reed
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport: Louise Haigh
Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, Party Chair and Chair of Labour Policy Review: Anneliese Dodds
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions: Jonathan Ashworth

Shadow Attorney General: Emily Thornberry

Shadow Cabinet Minister for Mental Health: Rosena Allin-Khan*
Shadow Cabinet Minister for International Development: Preet Gill **
Shadow Chief Secretary to HM Treasury: Pat McFadden ***

Shadow Secretary of State for Wales: Jo Stevens
Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland: Ian Murray
Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland: Peter Kyle

National Campaign Coordinator: Shabana Mahmood

Shadow Leader of the House of Commons: Thangam Debbonaire
Shadow Chief Whip: Alan Campbell
Shadow Leader of the House of Lords: Angela Smith
Opposition Chief Whip in the House: Roy Kennedy

* Working to Wes Streeting in the Shadow Health Team
** Working to David Lammy in the Shadow FCDO Team
*** Working to Rachel Reeves in the Shadow Treasury Team

Keir Starmer said: “The Labour Party I lead is focused on the priorities of the country. With this reshuffle, we are a smaller, more focused shadow cabinet that mirrors the shape of the government we are shadowing. We must hold the Conservative government to account on behalf of the public and demonstrate that we are the right choice to form the next government.

“I’m particularly delighted that Lisa Nandy will take on the vital role of shadowing Michael Gove and leading on the levelling up agenda. After 11 years of Conservative mismanagement of our economy, delivering prosperity to all regions and nations in the UK will be a defining mission of the next Labour government, and there will be nobody better than Lisa to lead this work.

“Climate change is the most important issue facing this country over the next decade. Ed Miliband will lead in the shadow cabinet to develop Labour’s extensive plans for net zero in a first term Labour government, and hold the government to account for its failure to take action. Ed has a proven track record in government, and is a powerful, internationally well respected voice on the issue, and that’s why I am delighted he has agreed to lead on this.

“Make Brexit Work is huge part of my agenda and that’s why I’ve asked Nick Thomas-Symonds to be in charge at International Trade and lead a Shadow Cabinet committee to deliver this crucial work.

“I want to thank all those who have left the shadow cabinet today for their great service to me and to our party. I look forward to working with the new team to show we are once again a serious party of government, ready to fix the mess the Tories have got the country into and to inspire voters to believe that Britain’s best days are ahead of us.”

19.51 – Peter Kyle promoted from shadow schools minister to Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary.

19.45 – A list of the shadow cabinet members who are thought to be out or moving:

  • Lisa Nandy (FCO to communities)
  • Nick Thomas-Symonds (home to trade)
  • Cat Smith (quit altogether)
  • David Lammy (justice to FCO)
  • Jonathan Ashworth (health to DWP)
  • Ed Miliband (BEIS to energy and climate change)
  • Jonathan Reynolds (DWP to BIS)
  • Emily Thornberry (trade to shadow attorney general)
  • Kate Green (no longer education)
  • Wes Streeting (child poverty to health)
  • Jo Stevens (DCMS to Wales)
  • Luke Pollard (no longer Defra)
  • Steve Reed (communities to justice)
  • Lucy Powell (housing to DCMS)
  • Jim McMahon (transport to Defra)
  • Louise Haigh (Northern Ireland to transport)
  • Nia Griffith (no longer Wales)
  • Lord Falconer (no longer shadow AG)

19.34 – Pat McFadden is getting a promotion to Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, replacing Bridget Phillipson, says Laura K.

19.30 – More on Ed Miliband’s role. He is going to be leading on climate change and net zero. Big new department dedicated to climate. Responsible for transforming energy system, leading allocation of Climate Investment Pledge and net zero industrial strategy.

19.23 – Well-sourced Eleni Courea has another run-down of the latest extensive (!) reshuffle decisions:

19.18 LabourList understands that Ed Miliband has a reshaped role focusing on climate and energy – i.e. no longer leading on business for Labour.

19.16 – Will anyone stay in their current post? The Mirror says Louise Haigh to transport and Jim McMahon to Defra.

19.13 A spokesman for Charlie Falconer, who is being replaced by Emily Thornberry as Shadow Attorney General, said: “Charlie Falconer has agreed with Keir that this is the right time for him to step back from his role in shadow cabinet.

“Charlie will remain active in politics and continue to work on the number of political areas he has a personal interest in, including assisted dying and the wider constitutional issues facing the UK.

“He will remain a close advisor to Keir Starmer and will continue to fight for a Labour government at the next general election.”

19.12 – Emily Thornberry is getting Shadow Attorney General, says Emilio Casalicchio, which makes total sense. She is a former human rights lawyer who has done the role before, under Ed Miliband.

19.05 – With Andy McDonald, Marsha de Cordova and now Cat Smith gone, it looks like there may be no Socialist Campaign Group members remaining in the shadow cabinet. (On the broader frontbench, i.e. junior shadow ministers, there is Olivia Blake, Imran Hussain and Sam Tarry.) Ed Miliband may be the shadow cabinet member that most meets with the approval of the party’s left now.

18.36 – This really is a big reshuffle. Everyone agrees Jonathan Reynolds has been excellent in the DWP role thanks to his deep knowledge of the brief, so he could be promoted but this would be another fairly surprising move for that reason.

18.27 – Thanks to Pippa for the round-up:

18.20 – Interesting from Adam Payne: Louise Haigh is tipped for a promotion after doing a good job in her Northern Ireland role, where she launched Labour’s Good Friday Agreement education programme.

18.03 – I’m told Yvette Cooper has been offered Shadow Home Secretary – and has not turned it down, contrary to some reports.

17.39 – David Lammy may be promoted to Shadow Foreign Secretary, and could Yvette Cooper be getting home as rumoured earlier?

17.23 – Lisa Nandy, currently Shadow Foreign Secretary but famous for her work on towns and love for buses, could be moving to communities, which would make sense.

16.58 – A surprising and odd move if Steve Reed, a former council leader and not a lawyer, is going from communities to the justice team as reported by Kate Proctor.

16.50 The latest: Thomas-Symonds is getting the international trade role, which is a demotion from Shadow Home Secretary. It means Thornberry will definitely be moved.

16.10 – It’s all gone quiet. I’m told I haven’t missed anything. We wait…

14.40 – Lots of talk about Ed Miliband being demoted. This follows reports of tensions between the leader’s office and Miliband during Labour conference, as well as repeated instances where Miliband appeared to be warmer towards energy nationalisation than Starmer. Miliband is thought by some Starmer allies to have been more focused on the energy part of his brief than the business aspect, which has not married with the ‘Labour is back in business’ line from the leader.

Kate Proctor reports that Lord Falconer, Shadow Attorney General, is on his way out. He recently came under scrutiny because he works for a lobbying firm and Starmer had to say Falconer would not be allowed to keep that job if he were a Labour government minister. At the start of the year, the Labour peer had to apologise for saying the pandemic was a gift that kept on giving for lawyers.

14.32 – Welsh Labour leader and First Minister Mark Drakeford has put out a substantial statement on Jo Stevens being appointed as the new Shadow Wales Secretary:

“I want to pay tribute to Nia Griffith, who has been a strong advocate for Wales in her time as Shadow Secretary of State. Nia has been a leading voice in Parliament for Wales’ interests – from holding the Prime Minister to account over his promise to ‘passport’ Welsh flood money, to standing up for Welsh businesses and urging the UK government to extend its furlough scheme, and so much more. I know she will continue to do so much for the communities she represents.

“Congratulations to Jo Stevens on her appointment as Shadow Secretary of State for Wales. Jo brings with her a wealth of experience, and I know she will be a powerful voice for our interests here in Wales, both inside and outside of the House of Commons.

“Our shared immediate priority is ensuring that Wales is best equipped to take on the emergence of the Omicron variant of Coronavirus. I know that Jo will stand up for Wales, and push the UK Government to ensure that Wales gets the resources we need to support families, businesses, and individuals as we continue to respond to the pandemic.”

14.25 – Sky News reports that Kate Green has been stood down from the Shadow Education Secretary post, as rumoured. The move was a long time coming, with many having urged Starmer to replace Green when it was thought she had not cut through despite the failures of Gavin Williamson when he was Education Secretary. Wes Streeting may be in the running: he is considered by those close to the leadership to be one of the most loyal Starmer supporters and one of the party’s very best frontbench media performers. Or shadow schools minister Peter Kyle.

14.13 – Reliable sources say Lucy Powell is being moved to DCMS. “Lucy vs Nadine will be interesting,” says one. Nadine Dorries, new at DCMS, had a pretty terrible showing at the DCMS committee last week. She seemed to be under the impression that Channel 4 is funded by taxpayers, for example.

14.00 – The latest rumours. Nick Thomas-Symonds may be replaced by Emily Thornberry as Shadow Home Secretary, which would be a surprise, while Lucy Powell may be moved teams yet again (after going from business to housing in the last reshuffle) and could replace Jo Stevens at DCMS.

13.51 – Jo Stevens has confirmed that she is moving from DCMS to Wales.

13.48 – I’m hearing that Nick Thomas-Symonds has been demoted from his Shadow Home Secretary post, as rumoured earlier. Will Yvette Cooper be replacing him in the top role?

13.32 – Rumours of Nick Thomas-Symonds’ imminent departure are getting louder.

13.30 – As expected, Jo Stevens has been demoted from the post of Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Patrick Maguire reports that she will now be Shadow Secretary of State for Wales.

13.29 – Clarifying events this morning, it has been established that Starmer met with Rayner to tell her about the reshuffle taking place today before she delivered her speech at the Institute for Government. The problem appears to be specifically that the reshuffle started during the speech, which was unforeseen.

12.50 – As Eleni Courea reports, political advisers – pads – will all be employed until at least the end of February so that they’re not out of a job just before Christmas.

The full message read: “Clearly we are not yet in a position to confirm individual outcomes, but we wanted to advise everyone that we have agreed with the party to offer continued employment until the end of February 2022 (rather than immediate notice) to allow for anyone without their current role to find alternative employment. This includes finding another role within the party, which could include working as a PAD in another role or in one of the vacant roles we have in policy.”

12.45 – If you’re looking for some speculation, the biggest potential move being discussed in Labour circles is replacing Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds with Yvette Cooper. It is thought that Cooper would only be interested in a very senior post, as she would have to stop chairing the home affairs committee to join the frontbench. Some Starmer supporters believe the role needs a heavy hitter and Cooper would be the perfect fit.

12.20 – LabourList has had it confirmed that Starmer intends to complete the reshuffle today.

12.15 – Addressing the controversy around the timing of the changes, Angela Rayner’s spokesperson has told journalists: “My understanding is that Keir and Angela had a short conversation in between her media round and her speech. She was not aware of the details of the reshuffle and she was not consulted on the reshuffle as she said herself.”

A friend of Rayner earlier said: “Trying to sack Angela and make her the scapegoat for Hartlepool was stupid. But doing a reshuffle when she’s literally on her feet giving a speech attacking the Tories for being corrupt is just plain offensive.”

12.05 – Cat Smith, who was in the shadow cabinet as the Shadow Secretary of State for Young People and Democracy, was offered to stay in her job but has chosen to stand down. In a letter to Keir Starmer that she has tweeted, Smith – who served in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet but has been publicly very loyal to Starmer – has expressed concerns about the former leader not being readmitted to the parliamentary party, a situation she describes as “utterly unsustainable”. She has also revealed that she is disappointed by the lack of leadership support for proportional representation.

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