New Labour leader unveils top team
Corbyn installs left wing loyalist as Chancellor in shadow Cabinet
Updated 2.30: Jeremy Corbyn unveiled more appointments to his shadow cabinet today (14th), with left-wing ally John McDonnell installed as the Shadow Chancellor. Seema Malhotra will also be part of the Treasury team as Shadow Chief Secretary.
He came in for criticism for hiring a male-oriented team in the top positions. But when the final list of 31 appointments was revealed, it emerged that female MPs made up 16 of the posts.
Hilary Benn remains Shadow Foreign Secretary, while Andy Burnham, who was a distant second to Mr Corbyn in the leadership contest is handed the Home Secretary portfolio.
A surprise choice at Justice is the Tony Blair supporter Lord Falconer.
Among females in senior positions, Angela Eagle was overlooked as Shadow Chancellor and instead is moved to Business. She will also be Shadow First Secretary of State and deputise for Mr Corbyn at Prime Minister’s Questions. Heidi Alexander replaces Mr Burnham at Health.
Diane Abbott, another of Mr Corbyn’s biggest supporters, is the new Shadow International Development Secretary.
Vernon Coaker takes up the Northern Ireland post, moving from Defence which is taken by Angela Eagle’s sister Maria.
Speculation over other posts surrounds Michael Dugher for Culture; Chris Bryant to become Shadow Leader of the House; Lucy Powell, a former chief of staff to Ed Miliband, to education; and Owen Smith at work and pensions.
Among those in the previous shadow cabinet who ruled themselves out of serving under the new leader were Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall, Rachel Reeves, Emma Reynolds, Dan Jarvis, Chris Leslie, Mary Creagh, and Tristram Hunt. Ms Cooper, the wife of former shadow chancellor Ed Balls, will head a taskforce examining the refugee crisis.
Chuka Umunna said he and Mr Corbyn “mutually agreed” that he would return to the backbenches. It is understood he had been unable to secure a pledge from Mr Corbyn that Labour would campaign for Britain to remain inside Europe in the forthcoming referendum.
Mr McDonnell is the former head of finance at the Greater London Council under Ken Livingstone and is a strong opponent of the government’s austerity programme.
He said that he and Mr Corbyn would expect Labour MPs to fight against the trade union bill which will go before the Commons today.
He has not clarified the party’s position on the EU, although Mr Corbyn has previously called for reform.
“Whatever [David] Cameron comes back with, we will have to assess what that is. If it is any attack on employment rights or the promotion of TTIP [Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership], we will be rejecting that package but we will have to come up with a reform programme as well. Jeremy has not supported withdrawal but has not given Cameron a free pass on it,” he said.