Sir Keir Starmer has been praised for “ruthlessly” purging all remnants of the Labour Party’s defeat in 2019 in a major reshuffle of his top team today.
The Labour leader promoted fresh faces to the shadow cabinet and demoted a number of big hitters in his first major reshuffle since 2021.
Speaking to Sophy Ridge on Sky News’ Politics Hub programme, shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said the re-organisation showed Sir Keir was focused on building a team that was “ready to govern”.
“We want to make sure that across the board we’ve got the right people in the right places,” he said.
The reshuffle saw key allies and those on the more Blairite wing of the party, including Liz Kendall, Pat McFadden and Shabana Mahmood, rewarded with promotions.
But big hitters such as Angela Rayner, Lisa Nandy and Jonathan Ashworth were demoted from their briefs to shadow levelling up secretary, shadow international development minister and shadow paymaster general, respectively.
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The removal of some of names associated with soft left has caused some consternation among the left, with grassroots left-wing group Momentum saying it promoted a “narrow band of Blairites unwilling to offer the decisive change the country is crying out for”.
Asked by Ridge whether he could identify anyone on the left of the party who had been promoted, Mr Streeting could only cite Ms Rayner.
He added: “I think it’s a good thing that Keir has ruthlessly and single-mindedly gone through all those things that led to voters rejecting Labour at the last election and eliminated every single one of them and built a foundation from which Labour can win a general election.”
Speaking after he conducted the reshuffle, Sir Keir said reforms to his frontbench meant he was “now in position to put our top team on the table, to show it to the country”.
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“I think what is important is to recognise that with this reshuffle, we now have the strongest possible players on the pitch for what is going to be a crucial part of the journey,” he told reporters in Westminster.
He said Ms Rayner’s job switch had been about putting her in a role that is “crucial to the rebuilding of our country”.
The decision to move Ms Rayner, who had previously been shadowing the Cabinet Office, led to Nandy being demoted from her job opposite Levelling-Up Secretary Michael Gove and switched to covering the international development brief.
Although she will still attend cabinet, Sky News deputy political editor Sam Coates said she was “having her wings clipped” with what was “unambiguously a demotion”.
A source close to Ms Nandy signalled there would be no dissent over her relegation, stating that she is a “team player” and was looking forward to “getting stuck into her new role”.