Irish backstop –
Keir Starmer has announced the top positions in his shadow cabinet, appointing Lisa Nandy, one of his rivals for the British Labour Party leadership, shadow foreign secretary. Angela Rayner, who was elected deputy leader on Saturday, becomes party chair and Anneliese Dodds will be shadow chancellor of the exchequer.
They will be part of a shadow Covid-19 committee, which Sir Keir will chair, to co-ordinate Labour’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are living through a national emergency. Under my leadership, the Labour Party will always act in the country’s interest to save lives and protect livelihoods. That will be the number one priority of my shadow cabinet. We will be a responsible opposition that supports the Government where we believe they are right and challenge them when we believe mistakes are being made,” the Labour leader said.
Sir Keir won the leadership election on the first count with 56.2 per cent of the vote, compared to 27.6 per cent for Rebecca Long-Bailey and 16.2 per cent for Ms Nandy. Ms Rayner, who was shadow education secretary under Jeremy Corbyn, won the deputy leadership contest on the third count.
Sir Keir has retained Jon Ashworth as shadow health secretary and appointed Nick Thomas-Symonds shadow home secretary and Rachel Reeves shadow chancellor for the Duchy of Lancaster. He will make further appointments on Monday and he has promised that Ms Long-Bailey, who was the choice of many in Mr Corbyn’s circle, would be offered a position in the shadow cabinet.
Anti-Semitism has been a stain on our party. I have seen the grief that it’s brought to Jewish communities
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Sir Keir’s position has been strengthened by the election of three supporters to vacant positions on Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC). Within hours of his election as leader, the former shadow Brexit secretary wrote to the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews to apologise for Labour’s handling of anti-Semitism under Mr Corbyn’s leadership.
“Anti-Semitism has been a stain on our party. I have seen the grief that it’s brought to so many Jewish communities. On behalf of the Labour Party, I am sorry. And I will tear out this poison by its roots and judge success by the return of Jewish members and those who felt that they could no longer support us,” he said in a statement following his election.
Sir Keir has accepted an invitation from Boris Johnson to attend a briefing this week on the government’s strategy for dealing with the coronavirus. The Labour leader said he had told the prime minister that he was sincere in offering constructive engagement during the crisis.
“We’ve all got a duty here to save lives and protect our country. And the Labour Party under my leadership will ask difficult questions but only for the purpose of pointing out mistakes so they can be put right. So that’s the approach I’m going to take,” he told the BBC.
“Scrutiny is important here. Because if scrutiny points out mistakes that can then be put right, it’s achieved a very important thing going forward. But not opposition for opposition’s sake. I’m not going to score party political points and I won’t demand the impossible, which is very easy to do at a time like now.”
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