There’s a new sheriff in town. After four and a half years as Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn stepped down to continue life as a backbencher. The final blow came after Labour’s disastrous showing in the December 2019 election, in which it lost seats it’s held for decades. As soon as Corbyn announced this, the starting gun was fired for the Labour leadership election.
It was narrowed down to five: Lisa Nandy, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Sir Keir Starmer, Emily Thornberry, and Jess Phillips, with Clive Lewis stepping down as he realised he wasn’t going to get enough votes. The deputy leadership was also down to five: Angela Rayner, Dr. Rosena Allin-Khan, Richard Burgon, Ian Murray, and Dawn Butler. Khalid Mahmood stepped down before it reached MPs.
Eventually, after many months and worries of coronavirus delays, a new leader and deputy leader were selected in the Labour leadership election. On the 6th April, Starmer announced his full shadow cabinet.
Here is your guide to the new Labour leadership:
Sir Keir Starmer QC, MP for Holborn and St Pancras since 2015 (majority 27,673)
Director of Public Prosecutions (2008-2013), Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union and Shadow Minister of State for Immigration.
Sir Keir Starmer was born to a working-class household. He attended grammar school from the age of 11, studied law at The University of Leeds, and then got a post-graduate degree from St. Edmund Hall, Oxford. Starmer was called to the bar in 1987.
Working mainly as a human rights barrier, Starmer was made a QC (Queen’s Counsel) in 2002 and was on several advisory panels, including for the Northern Ireland Police Force. In 2008, Starmer was appointed as both the Head of the Crown Prosecution Service and Director of Public Prosecutions. During his time, he oversaw controversial cases such of the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes and the case of Chris Huhne.
In 2015, Starmer won the Labour safe seat of Holborn and St Pancras in Central London, replacing the retiring previous MP. A few months later, he was put in the Home Office team as Shadow Minister of State for Immigration.
His big break, however, came when he was made Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. This role involved him being part of the Brexit negotiations, where his views clashed with the governing Conservative Party and Prime Minister Theresa May. Starmer’s push to make the Brexit plans public succeeded as his actions forced May’s hand. He talked about reforms to freedom of movement in an attempt to appease more Eurosceptic Labour voters, something that went directly against the views of Jeremy Corbyn. Starmer later changed this slightly by appealing to keep the free movement of labour.
The most notable part of Starmer’s Brexit views was his push for a second referendum. He has been an advocate for it for several years, especially when he became Shadow Brexit Secretary. Starmer called for it to be an option at party conference in September 2018. Starmer was instrumental in getting the people’s vote option into the 2019 election manifesto and spoke at many events to encourage support for it.
Starmer identifies as a socialist and tends to espouse socialist views. However, he is but is aligned with the Labour faction known as the ‘soft left’. The soft left are those with generally traditionally left or socialist views who tend to be less militant and more open to compromise. His views include nationalisation of major industries, anti-austerity, and an increase in tax for top earners. Starmer is also anti-interventionist, supporting military action only with MPs’ approval and wanting to stop arms sales.
Angela Rayner, MP for Ashton-under-Lyne since 2015 (majority 4,263)
Shadow Minister of State for Pensions; Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities and Shadow Secretary of State for Education.
Angela Rayner was raised in a working-class home in Stockport. She left school without any qualifications after becoming pregnant at 16, later becoming a care worker and learning British Sign Language. Rayner became part of Unison as a trade union representative before working full time for them as a convenor in the North West region.
Rayner became Labour candidate for Ashton-Under-Lyne in Greater Manchester after the previous MP retired, winning the seat in 2015. Her first ministerial role came a year later in 2016 when she was appointed Shadow Minister of State for Pensions.
She’s an ardent supporter of a National Education Service, the educational equivalent of the NHS. Rayner also advocates for better pay for teachers, believing that low pay is leading to low attainment. She supported Andy Burnham in the 2015 leadership election but was one of few who later backed Jeremy Corbyn in his VNOC (vote of no confidence). An ally of Corbyn, Rayner is classed as one of his team.
Like Starmer, Rayner is a soft left MP with definite socialist leanings. She criticised Corbyn during the leadership race for not ‘commanding respect’ as a leader. Rayner is seen as a pragmatic MP, something she said she’d be in senior roles. Rayner is passionate about education and also praises Sure Start centres, where she took parenting classes. A particular interest for Rayner is early years funding. She’s also strongly anti-austerity.
- Anneliese Dodds, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
- Lisa Nandy, Shadow Foreign Secretary
- Nick Thomas-Symonds, Shadow Home Secretary
- Rachel Reeves, Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
- David Lammy, Shadow Justice Secretary
- John Healey, Shadow Defence Secretary
- Ed Miliband, Shadow Business, Energy and Industrial Secretary
- Emily Thornberry, Shadow International Trade Secretary
- Jonathan Reynolds, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary
- Jonathan Ashworth, Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
- Rebecca Long-Bailey, Shadow Education Secretary
- Jo Stevens, Shadow Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary
- Bridget Phillipson, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury
- Luke Pollard, Shadow Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary
- Steve Reed, Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary
- Thangam Debbonaire, Shadow Housing Secretary
- Jim McMahon, Shadow Transport Secretary
- Preet Kaur Gill, Shadow International Development Secretary
- Louise Haigh, Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary (interim)
- Ian Murray, Shadow Scotland Secretary
- Nia Griffith, Shadow Wales Secretary
- Marsha de Cordova, Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary
- Andy McDonald, Shadow Employment Rights and Protections Secretary
- Rosena Allin-Khan, Shadow Minister for Mental Health
- Cat Smith, Shadow Minister for Young People and Voter Engagement
- Lord Falconer, Shadow Attorney General
- Valerie Vaz, Shadow Leader of the House
- Nick Brown, Opposition Chief Whip
- Baroness Smith, Shadow Leader of the Lords
- Lord McAvoy, Lords’ Opposition Chief Whip