Angela Rayner says ‘I don't know the details of any reshuffle’
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Sir Keir has completed his appointments to the Labour Party’s wider frontbench. In a reshuffle of his top team, Yvette Cooper became Shadow Home Secretary, David Lammy was picked as Shadow Foreign Secretary, while Wes Streeting was appointed as Shadow Health Secretary. Lisa Nandy has been moved to Shadow Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary, Steve Reed is now responsible for justice and Bridget Phillipson is Labour’s education lead.
There are also a string of further moves.
They come just a week after Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, was left humiliated after Sir Keir failed to brief her on his plans to reshuffle the frontbench.
She was delivering a major speech in Westminster when news of the reshuffle broke.
Sir Keir was busy carrying out a major revamp of his team, something which Ms Rayner’s team later said they had not been informed of.
At the speech, Ms Rayner told an audience at an Institute for Government (ifG) event, that she “didn’t know the details” of any reshuffle because she was “concentrating on the job at hand”.
Afterwards, she appeared in an interview with Times Radio, continuing to appear clueless about any reshuffle.
When asked whether she would expect to be consulted, she replied: “I’m not aware of any plans for a reshuffle, I haven’t been consulted, so I don’t think there’s any focus on that at the moment…
“I reckon that Keir would tell me first, yeah.”
The event is just one in a string of ill relations between Ms Rayner and Sir Keir that has threatened to explode at the top of the Labour Party in the past year.
In May, she was sacked by Sir Keir as party chair and national campaign coordinator, with her allies claiming that she had been frozen out of key decisions made by Sir Keir’s aides.
And, it is no secret that she threw her weight behind Rebecca Long-Bailey’s leadership campaign last year.
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Steven Fielding, Professor of Political History at the University of Nottingham, suggested that Sir Keir’s newest move could be the result of his knowing Ms Rayner’s leadership ambitions.
He said while there are a few possible explanations behind the “incompetence” of the reshuffle, he hinted at a wider power struggle at play.
Prof Fielding told Express.co.uk: “Angela Rayner is from the working class, Keir Starmer’s from the working class.
“This is the odd thing: they appear to be very different people, although their social backgrounds are not massively different.
“But while Starmer went up through the universities, Rayner went up through the trade unions, so they’ve got different inflections as to what it is to be a member of Labour.
“But there’s clearly something happening between them.
“I don’t know what it is, I don’t know if it’s because she’s very ambitious to become leader and he’s very sensitive to that.
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“Or, if he’s just a centraliser and wants to keep everything under his own guise, and doesn’t want anyone else to be part of that, regardless of what their role is.
“I don’t really know what’s going on, but they really need to fix it, because it’s not a good look: it was so incompetent that she didn’t seem to know what was going on.
“They knew she was giving a speech, and they knew they were going to announce it.”
It appears that Ms Rayner was informed of this week’s main reshuffle.
She announced the various swaps and appointments on her Twitter account on Monday morning.
An ally of Ms Rayner told The Guardian that Sir Keir would have been fully aware that the initial reshuffle move would “blow up” her bid to lay out plans for reforming the standards system during her speech, adding that it was “not fair”.
Sir Keir’s team, however, claim that it was the perfect time for a reshuffle, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson under pressure after a series of backbench revolts, and the vaccine bounce in the polls waning.
Last month, for the first time in a year, Labour led the Conservatives in the polls.
It came at a time when the Tories were reeling from accusations of sleaze surrounding second jobs.
Elsewhere in the Shadow Cabinet reshuffle, Ed Miliband’s brief has been cut down to focus on climate change and net zero.
Jonathan Reynolds replaces him as Shadow Business Secretary.
Justin Madders will now be responsible for employment rights and protections.
He will sit across both Mr Reynolds’ team and Ms Rayner’s future of work team.
And, among others, Alex Norris, formerly Shadow Health Minister, will now work with Ms Nandy in the levelling up team.
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