Behind the scenes

Labour reshuffle: the potential winners and losers

Keir Starmer backs Anneliese Dodds to stay put as shadow chancellor - for now

As Keir Starmer approaches his first anniversary as Labour leader, rumours of a shadow cabinet reshuffle are rife.

While Starmer has insisted that his team is “absolutely focused” on the May elections, insiders have suggested that a shake-up of at least some posts is likely as the party continues to lag behind the Tories.

With the latest YouGov Westminster voting intention figures giving the Conservatives a nine-point lead over Labour, here are some of the opposition party’s potential candidates for demotions or promotions.

Losers

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds is the biggest name to be “tipped for a sideways move” and may be facing “a straight job-swap with Rachel Reeves, who shadows the Cabinet Office”, says The Guardian.

Starmer yesterday said that he has “full confidence” in Dodds and that she is doing a “fantastic job”, and a Labour spokesperson dismissed reports about her possible role change.  

But according to the Daily Mirror, some Labour MPs are “growing frustrated” with Dodds, amid fears that she is “struggling to communicate the party’s direction”.  

Others are predicting that she will stay put, however, with an unnamed shadow cabinet minister telling the paper that “the way this has been focused on Anneliese is unfair and a bit sexist. There is a collective failure of the shadow cabinet. We’re considered by some to be boring and failing to land any blows.”

Sources have also singled out shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds for a likely demotion. Another shadow cabinet minister told the Mirror: “Keir needs some tough outriders. Nick and Anneliese are very capable but being a safe pair of hands isn’t enough. It means Keir has to do a lot of the heavy lifting himself.”

The paper predicts that the reshuffle will come later this summer, “potentially in July”.

Winners

Rachel Reeves is “known to have Starmer’s ear, shares his outlook on the party’s path back to power, and is generally agreed to have been an effective, if not the most effective, shadow cabinet minister”, says the New Statesman’s Ailbhe Rea, who lists of a variety of reasons why the Leeds West MP might be promoted.

Party insiders told The Sunday Times that Lisa Nandy, the shadow foreign secretary, could also be in the frame should the role of shadow chancellor become free.  “Nandy is one of the party’s best communicators and has not been in a role that has enabled her to utilise her talents to the full and needs a more public-facing role,” said one source.

Former “big beasts” Yvette Cooper, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, and Hilary Benn, former chair of the Brexit Select Committee, are “understood to have been sounded out about taking on shadow cabinet roles” too, the paper adds.

The Guardian predicts that a reshuffle is also likely to give “a boost to some of the MPs seen as punchy media performers, such as David Lammy, Rosena Allin-Khan and Jess Phillips”.

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