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The team set to run the UK’s new Labour government

Keir Starmer, now prime minister after Labour inflicted a crushing defeat on the Conservatives in Thursday’s general elections, as he dragged the party from the hard left toward the political center ground in his bid for power.
Last Updated : 06 July 2024, 09:19 IST

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By Isabella Ward

A former Bank of England economist, the first Black Briton to attend Harvard Law School and an ex-union worker are among those given top jobs in Britain’s first Labour government in 14 years.

Keir Starmer, now prime minister after Labour inflicted a crushing defeat on the Conservatives in Thursday’s general election, wasted no time in rewarding allies who supported him as he dragged the party from the hard left toward the political center ground in his bid for power.

These are the key appointments so far:

Rachel Reeves, 45, Chancellor the Exchequer

Newly appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer Rachel Reeves.

Newly appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer Rachel Reeves.

Credit: Reuters Photo

Reeves, shadow chancellor since 2021, becomes Britain’s first female finance minister. A brief stint as an economist at the Bank of England ended 18 years ago, but she has made her past employer a central part of her public image to emphasize her economic credibility. Reeves, who inherits challenges ranging from highest debt burden since the 1960s to sluggish productivity growth, has pledged to revitalize the UK economy by driving investment and overhauling the planning system. Despite her centrist credentials, Reeves maintains some core left-wing beliefs including abolishing value-added-tax exemptions for private schools, which is now a key part of the Labour’s policy platform.

Angela Rayner, 44, Deputy Prime Minister

Newly appointed British Deputy Prime Minister Angela Rayner.

Newly appointed British Deputy Prime Minister Angela Rayner.

Credit: Reuters Photo

Rayner, who grew up in poverty and left school with no qualifications, rose through the ranks of the labor union, Unison, and maintains close links to the movement that provides a sizable portion of Labour’s funding. In opposition she served as shadow deputy prime minister. She describes herself as part of Labour’s “soft left” and has pledged to tackle homelessness. Allegations, denied by Rayner, that she broke electoral law before becoming a Member of Parliament marred Starmer’s first week of campaigning — until police dropped the investigation in late May.

David Lammy, 51, Foreign Secretary

Britain's newly appointed Foreign Secretary David Lammy.

Britain's newly appointed Foreign Secretary David Lammy.

Credit: Reuters Photo

Lammy is a friend of former US President Barack Obama and the first Black Briton to attend Harvard Law School. He has warned that China poses “real security threats” and pledged “ironclad” British support for Ukraine, which he plans to visit next month. Lammy met President Volodymyr Zelenski during May’s D-Day commemorations in Normandy, capitalizing on the absence of Rishi Sunak who controversially cut short his visit to fly home for a television interview. Having called Brexit a “national tragedy,” Lammy has said he’d “get into negotiation” with the European Union when the post-Brexit trade agreement is reviewed in 2025. A Labour government would be “an opportunity to turn the page on the post-Brexit rancor of the past,” Lammy said at the Institute for Government in May. “We need to get back on trusted, friendly terms.”

Yvette Cooper, 55, Home Secretary

Britain's newly appointed Interior Minister Yvette Cooper.

Britain's newly appointed Interior Minister Yvette Cooper.

Credit: Reuters Photo

Elected to Parliament in 1997, Cooper has wide experience of government already. She became the first female Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 2008, serving as No. 2 to then-Chancellor Alistair Darling during the financial crisis, and was Work and Pensions Secretary until Labour lost power in 2010. Since then, she has held foreign and domestic policy briefs for the party, and ran unsuccessfully for the Labour leadership in 2015. She fought to delay leaving the EU to prevent an economically damaging “hard Brexit”. As Shadow Home Secretary from 2021, Cooper said a Labour government would beef up national security and put more police officers into local communities to tackle crime and anti-social behavior.

Sue Gray, 66, Senior Adviser

Britain's newly appointed senior adviser Sue Gray.

Britain's newly appointed senior adviser Sue Gray.

Credit: X/@SueGrayLab

The former civil servant is best known for investigating the “Partygate” allegations against the former prime minister Boris Johnson. Starmer appointed her his chief of staff last year. She has split opinion within Labour since by shaking up senior appointments in the party. Reported to have delayed a decision to ax £28 billion ($35 billion) of green spending, some worry she could stoke Starmer’s tendency to dither on decision-making. She would be perfect leading the response to a terror attack, but not to attacks from the Tory-leaning Daily Mail newspaper, some Labour officials told Bloomberg in February.

Morgan McSweeney, 47, Senior Adviser

Britain's newly appointed senior adviser Morgan McSweeney.

Britain's newly appointed senior adviser Morgan McSweeney.

Credit: X/@robertfalzon

Director of campaigns, McSweeney has been Starmer’s most trusted aide since he ran the premier’s campaign for Labour leader in 2020. He spent months installing Starmer loyalists into safe parliamentary seats at the expense of the Labour left, Bloomberg reported in May. The ex-director of think tank Labour Together has tried to make the smallest target possible for Tory attacks, ditching the party’s green stimulus plans and meticulously costing all policy commitments.

Pat McFadden, 59, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

Britain's newly appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Pat McFadden.

Britain's newly appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Pat McFadden.

Credit: Reuters Photo

McFadden, an MP for almost two decades, personally oversaw Labour’s campaign, fielding questions from journalists after leadership debates in so-called “spin rooms” and batting away Tory attack lines on the airwaves several times a week. In June, he switched to the offensive by climbing aboard the Labour press bus to distribute handouts with 20 questions picking apart the Tories’ costings that journalists “should ask.” He made headlines as a member of the Treasury Committee in 2014 when he described mixed messaging by then Bank of England Governor Mark Carney as worthy of an "unreliable boyfriend".

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Published 06 July 2024, 09:19 IST

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