Labour Party reshuffle: Kier Starmer hands Steve Reed top environment brief

Labour Party leader Kier Starmer has completed a reshuffle of his Shadow Cabinet. Moves include appointing Steve Reed as the new Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.


Labour Party reshuffle: Kier Starmer hands Steve Reed top environment brief

Starmer began conducting his reshuffle on Monday morning (4 September) as Parliament returned from its summer recess.

As had been widely expected, Shadow Deputy Prime Minister Angela Rayner was given an additional role as the Shadow Secretary for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. This makes her the direct challenger to Michael Gove, who came under fire last week for his role in rolling back requirements for housing developers to prevent water pollution.

Rayner has replaced Lisa Nandy in the Levelling Up brief. Nandy has been moved on to the role of Shadow Cabinet Minister for International Development, a less senior position.

Meanwhile, due to the resignation of Jim McMahon from the position of Shadow Secretary for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Steve Reed has been given the brief in opposition to  Conservative Therese Coffey.

Starmer has stated that McMahon stepped down to dedicate more time to his personal life. McMahon is understood to have been in ill health as of late and has also faced violent threats online for the past three years.

Reed, the MP for Croydon North since 2012, has been moved across from his role as Shadow Secretary of State for Justice. He has also, in his decade-long Parliamentary career, held Shadow Cabinet roles relating to home affairs, education, communities, levelling up and culture, media and sport.

Replacing Reed in the Justice post is Shabana Mahmood.

Reed is a member of several All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs), but the only one with direct links of the environment is the ‘Tidy Britain’ APPG. This APPG deals with local environment quality issues including littering, fly-tipping and pollution.

Reed’s website does not make mention of the environment on the ‘about’ page. His listing on TheyWorkForYou shows voting broadly in line with the Labour Party. As such, he has voted against higher taxes on plane and fuel taxes during the 2010s, but has advocated for measures to ban fracking and decarbonise the energy system.

Energy, business and net-zero

Elsewhere, Peter Kyle of Hove has been appointed Shadow Secretary for Science, Innovation and Technology, moving across from a role concerning Northern Ireland that has now been filled by Hilary Benn. Kyle has experience sitting on the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee (BEIS Committee).

Former BEIS Select Committee lead Darren Jones has been selected as Starmer’s new Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Starmer did not announce a move for Ed Miliband, the Shadow Secretary for Climate Change and Net-Zero, nor Jonathan Reynolds, the Shadow Secretary for Business and Industrial Strategy. Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh is also still in post, for now.

Rishi Sunak’s mini-reshuffle

The reshuffle within Labour comes after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak completed his own mini reshuffle late last week.

Following the resignation of Ben Wallace as Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps was given this role. His departure from the Department for Energy Security and Net-Zero saw Sunak selecting junior minister Claire Coutinho to fill the brief.

Some green groups were glad to see Shapps go, given his vocal support for new oil and gas and his opposition of peaceful protests relating to environmental causes. Others question whether Coutinho has the experience needed and whether she will simply follow the Party lines set under Liz Truss and then Sunak.

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