A look into Keir Starmer’s new cabinet

Wednesday 10th July 2024 07:37 EDT

Shortly after assuming office, Prime Minister Keir Starmer announced his new cabinet. Rachel Reeves became the UK's first female Chancellor, and the cabinet made history with the highest number of female ministers.

The new cabinet features 11 female ministers, the highest number in the country's history. Comparatively, former PM Rishi Sunak’s cabinet had seven female ministers before the reshuffle and ten afterward. In the House of Commons, more than 40% of seats are now held by women, including 46% of Labour MPs and 24% of their Conservative counterparts.

However, despite a record 89 ethnic minority MPs elected this year, Starmer’s cabinet remains predominantly White. Starmer's cabinet includes only one Black MP, Foreign Secretary David Lammy. The first Labour cabinet in 14 years has  six ministers of Asian descent: Shabana Mahmood, one of the UK’s first Muslim female MPs, Tulip Siddiq, Rushanara Ali, Seema Malhotra, Wajid Khan, the Baron Khan of Burnley and Lisa Nandy, who has spoken of her Indian heritage during Labour Party conferences in the past. Nandy is the daughter of Calcutta-born academic Dipak Nandy and English mother Luise Byers, with her father being notable for his work in race relations in Britain.

Meanwhile, Labour veteran and Britain’s first Black female MP, Diane Abbott, will become the "Mother of the House" in the new parliament, having served her Hackney North and Stoke Newington constituency for nearly 40 years. Sir Edward Leigh will be the Father of the House of Commons.

Peerages announced in the new cabinet

The new cabinet includes some unexpected appointments. Richard Hermer is the new Attorney General, rather than Emily Thornberry, who had shadowed the role. Hermer, a friend of Sir Keir's from his barrister days, will receive a life peerage to sit in the House of Lords and attend the cabinet.

Former government chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance has been given a peerage to become a science minister in the new government. James Timpson has also received a peerage and been appointed prisons minister. Former Prime Minister Theresa May will sit in the House of Lords, having been nominated for a peerage alongside former Justice Secretary Chris Grayling and the chair of the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady. Labour has chosen its former Deputy Leader Harriet Harman, former Foreign Secretary Dame Margaret Beckett, and Dame Margaret Hodge to sit in the House of Lords. Dr Hilary Cass, who conducted a review into gender identity services, has been nominated as a crossbench peer.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has also given honours to five of his Conservative colleagues. Oliver Dowden, the Deputy Prime Minister and close ally of Sunak, will be knighted, as will former Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith, former Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, and Scottish Secretary Alister Jack. Therese Coffey, who served under Sunak as Environment Secretary, will be made a dame.

The Conservatives have also awarded peerages to Liam Booth-Smith, Sunak's Chief of Staff; Sir Alok Sharma, who was president of the COP26 climate conference; and Dame Eleanor Laing, who served as Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons for over a decade.

Other Labour politicians to receive peerages include John Cryer, formerly representing Leyton and Wanstead; Kevan Jones, a champion of workers caught up in the Post Office scandal; Barbara Keeley, a former MP for Worsley and Eccles South; John Spellar, a former MP for Warley; and Dame Rosie Winterton, former MP for Doncaster Central and former House of Commons Deputy Speaker.

Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon, who led the party in the London Assembly, joins the upper chamber, along with former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, Thomas Elliott. Minette Batters, former president of the National Farmers' Union, will be a crossbench peer.

Conservatives announce interim shadow cabinet

The Conservative Party has announced a reshuffle as former ministers and returning MPs transition into the shadow cabinet as opposition leader Rishi Sunak introduced his interim shadow cabinet lineup.

Key changes and appointments include:

Shadow Foreign Secretary: Former Foreign Secretary David Cameron, who made a surprise return to the cabinet in November, resigned, making way for Andrew Mitchell to step into the role.

Shadow Chancellor: Jeremy Hunt remains as Shadow Chancellor.

Shadow Home Secretary: James Cleverly continues as Shadow Home Secretary.

Shadow Defence Secretary: James Cartlidge takes over as Shadow Defence Secretary.

Shadow Justice Secretary: Ed Argar assumes the role of Shadow Justice Secretary following the electoral defeats of Grant Shapps and Alex Chalk.

Interim Chairman: Richard Holden, who narrowly retained his seat, resigned as Conservative Party Chairman citing challenging election results. He has been replaced by Richard Fuller, the former Economic Secretary to the Treasury, in the interim Chairman role.

Reflecting on the election outcomes, the interim Chairman emphasised the need for the Conservative Party to regroup and conduct a thorough review of their performance, stressing the importance of introspection and outlining areas for improvement.

Currently, the biggest step being taken to regroup within the conservative party. So far none of the party's 121 surviving MPs have confirmed whether they plan to run in the eventual contest to replace the former PM but some of the front-runners for the position include Kemi Badenoch, Suella Braverman, James Cleverly, Priti Patel, Tom Tugendhat, Victoria Atkins and Robert Jenrick.

comments powered by Disqus

to the free, weekly Asian Voice email newsletter