Labour leader Keir Starmer conducted a reshuffle of his frontbench team today (4 September), with some moves for Labour/Co-op MPs.
Ahead of the reshuffle, Jim McMahon, MP for Oldham West and Royton and chair of the Co-op Party, announced his resignation as shadow secretary for environment, food and rural affairs.
Posting his letter on Twitter, he stated his continued support for Sir Keir but added: “After a testing year I want to focus on getting my health back to full strength so that I can make a full and active contribution to the general election campaign heading towards us, and to prioritise my constituents.”
Earlier this year, McMahon revealed he had been hospitalised last October for an infection that caused inflammation of the abdomen, which led to him spending time in hospital last autumn. And in 2021 he spoke out after an online abuser was spared jail for sending him death threats on Facebook.
Sir Keir replied: “I understand the reasons for your decision. I know that you have faced a number of personal challenges in addition to your frontbench work and that these have taken a personal toll.
“MPs should never have to deal with abuse or violent threats, and I can appreciate how difficult this must have been for you and your family. You have always risen above this and remained focused on the principles that brought you into politics.
“Of course, I am also aware about the ongoing health issues that you have faced. Despite all of these difficulties, you have never wavered in your determination to work, either for your constituents or for me.
“I am very grateful for this. I know that you will continue to diligently serve our Party and your constituents from the backbenches.”
McMahon has been replaced in the role by another Labour/Co-op MP, Steve Reed (Croydon North) who has been moved from shadow justice secretary.
Other changes affecting Labour/Co-op MPs see Jonathan Ashworth (Leicester South) demoted from shadow work and pensions secretary to shadow paymaster general. He is replaced by Liz Kendall (Lab, Leicester West), but Sky News has reported that he will keep his cabinet place and be given a key the next election campaign.
Lucy Powell (Manchester Central) has lost her role as shadow secretary for digital, culture, media and sport, moving to shadow leader of the Commons; she is replaced by Thangam Debbonaire (Lab, Bristol West) while Preet Kaur Gill (Birmingham Edbaston) leaves the shadow cabinet after losing her role as shadow minister for international development to Lisa Nandy (Lab, Wigan), who was demoted from levelling up, housing and communities.
Jonathan Reynolds (Stalybridge and Hyde) retains his role as shadow secretary for business and industrial strategy; Anneliese Dodds, party chair and shadow secretary for women and equalities, also remains in place.
In the House of Lords, Labour/Co-op peers Angela Smith and Roy Kennedy keep their respective roles as leader of the house and chief whip.
The reshuffle leaves the top shadow roles – chancellor, home, foreign, health and education – unchanged and is seen in some quarters as a strengthening of the right of the party.
Sir Keir tweeted: “Britain deserves a government that wakes up every morning determined to improve the lives of working people. That’s what my Labour government, with the team appointed today, will do. We are ready to deliver the change our country needs.”