In Brief

Ed Miliband returns to front bench - what has he been up to since 2015?

Since standing down the former leader has hosted a podcast and spoken out on climate change

Incoming Labour leader Keir Starmer has appointed former party leader Ed Miliband to his first shadow cabinet. In a dramatic return to frontline politics, Miliband, who led the party between 2010 and 2015, will take the role of shadow business secretary. 

Miliband said he is “looking forward to serving in Keir Starmer’s Shadow Cabinet,” adding: “We must all focus on playing our part in the country’s response to coronavirus, working with government to help the many businesses and workers who have been so badly hit and need their voice heard”.

Lisa Nandy was appointed shadow foreign secretary and Rebecca Long-Bailey is named as the new shadow education secretary. Emily Thornberry is shadow international trade secretary. David Lammy is appointed as the new shadow justice secretary.

Starmer said: “This is a new team that will be relentlessly focused on acting in the national interest to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and rebuilding Labour so that it can win the next election.”

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Sky News describes Miliband’s return as a “surprise”. Since resigning as leader after Labour’s defeat in the 2015 general election, he has hosted a podcast, Reasons To Be Cheerful, described as “rampantly popular” by GQ magazine. 

In 2017, he guest-presented Jeremy Vine's BBC Radio 2 show. He has also joined the editorial board of The Political Quarterly journal, an unremunerated role. 

The former leader has also spoken from the back-benches of the House of Commons on climate change, inequality and Brexit. In 2016, he called on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to stand down, explaining that he had “reluctantly reached the conclusion his position [was] untenable”. In the subsequent leadership contest, Miliband supported Owen Smith. 

At the 2019 general election, Miliband held onto his Doncaster North seat, with a reduced majority. There was anger and derision when it was announced that Miliband would spearhead the review into why the party lost the general election. 

“It is just so poorly judged by Ed... people are frankly flabbergasted at the breathtaking arrogance of it all,” said one Labour source.

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