Sir Keir Starmer Announces His Cabinet Appointments

There are some solid picks and an odd ommission in the new Prime Minister’s lineup

Sir Keri Starmer holding his first formal cabinet meeting after becoming Prime Minister
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After his historic election win on Thursday 4th July, 2024, Prime Minister Starmer has announced his Cabinet. For those of you who aren’t aware, the Cabinet is a team of around 20 people, chosen by the Prime Minister who lead policy on certain matters such as finance, health, defence and foreign affairs.

In order to take on a cabinet position, the person must be a sitting MP or a member of the House of Lords. We saw this in action when David Cameron was appointed Foreign Secretary in 2023. He hadn’t been an MP since 2016 but was appointed to the Lords by King Charles so he could take on the position[1]i News: Cabinet reshuffle: why you can still be a UK government minister if you aren’t an MP.

Starmer is following in his predecessor Rishi Sunak’s footsteps buy appointing 2 non-MPs to his cabinet, both of which will need to be made peers in order to take on their roles. So who’s in:

Angela Rayner – Deputy Prime Minister

Rayner is the UK’s first female deputy PM and is MP for Ashton-under-Lyne where she’s been in office since 2015.

Rayner is also the Minister of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (previously know as The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government [2]Local Government Chronicle: MHCLG to be renamed ‘Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’).

Rachel Reeves – Chancellor of the Exchequer

Reeves is the first female UK Chancellor and has a background in economics and banking so is uniquely suited to the role.

Reeves has been MP for Leeds West and Pudsey since 2010.

David Lammy – Foreign Secretary

Lammy has been MP for Tottenham since 2010 and was the youngest MP at just 27. He’s held positions in Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s government.

While Lammy has experience, his comments about Donald Trump (he called him a “woman-hating neo-Nazi sympathising sociopath” and a “profound threat to the international order.”[3]The Telegraph: Starmer distances himself from Lammy’s comments on Trump) so it could be interested if Trump gets into the White House in November.

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Yvette Cooper – Home Secretary

Cooper has a wealth of experience in government having worked for Bill Clinton in 1992, worked in the Ministry of Health under Tony Blair, and helped to implement the highly praise “Sure Start” programme, has been Minister for Housing and Planning and was the first woman to serve as Chief Secretary to the Treasury under Gordon Brown.

Cooper has been MP for Pontefract, Castleford and Knottingley since 1997.

John Healey – Defence Secretary

Healey has been MP of Rawmarsh and Conisbrough since 1997 (under other constituency names).

He has held a variety of roles in the government under both Blair and Brown and was Minister for Housing and planning from 2009.

Pat McFadden – Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is the highest ranking member of the Government behind the Prime Minister and is responsible for administering the Duchy of Lancaster.

In this position, McFadden is also responsible for advising the PM on developing government policy, chairing meeting and overseeing committees.

McFadden has been MP for Wolverhampton South East since 2005.

Shabana Mahmood – Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary

Mahmood is a barrister so has the experience needed to helm the Department of Justice. She was elected as MP of Birmingham Ladywood in 2010 and became one of the first female Muslim MPs.

Under Ed Miliband she served as Shadow Minister for Prisons, Shadow Minister for Higher Education, and Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury.

Wes Streeting – Health Secretary

Streeting has been MP for Ilford North since 2015 but prior to this he served as president of the National Union of Students, head of education at gay rights charity Stonewall and stood a councillor Redbridge London Borough Council.

Streeting has held shadow cabinet positions as Shadow Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury and Shadow Minister for Schools. He was Shadow Health Secretary from 2021.

Bridget Phillipson – Education Secretary

Phillipson has been MP for Houghton and Sunderland South since 2010 but has been a member of the Labour Party since she was 15 years old.

She has held various committee positions and was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Education in 2021. She has stated that she’s in favour of imposing VAT on private school fees, funding breakfast clubs for every England primary school and for Ofsted reform.

Ed Miliband – Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary

Finally escaping that “bacon sandwich” moment[4]HuffPost: How A Bacon Sandwich Derailed Ed Miliband’s UK Political Career, Miliband is back to front-line politics.

He’s been MP of Doncaster North since 2005 and beat his brother David to become Labour leader in 2010.

Miliband has experience of working as Energy Secretary as it was a role he landed when the Department of Energy and Climate Change was created in 2008.

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Liz Kendall – Work and Pensions Secretary

Kendall has been MP of Leicester West since 2010 and has served on the Education Select Committee and as Shadow Minister for Care and Older People.

Jonathan Reynolds – Business and Trade Secretary

Reynolds has been MP for Stalybridge and Hyde since 2010 and prior to that held a position in Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council.

In government he has held the position of Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions before being made Shadow Business Secretary in 2023.

Peter Kyle – Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary

Kyle has been MP for Hove and Portslade since 2015 and has served as Shadow Minister for Victims and Youth Justice, Shadow Minister for Schools, Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and was appointed Shadow Science Secretary in 2023.

Louise Haigh – Transport Secretary

Haigh is the youngest member of the cabinet at 36, and has been MP of Sheffield Heeley since 2015 and was appointed Shadow Minister for Civil Service and Digital Reform the same year.

In 2016 she was made Shadow Minister for the Digital Economy, in 2020 was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the Shadow Transport Secretary in 2021.

Steve Reed – Environment Secretary

Reed has been MP of Croydon North since 2012 and prior to his election held a number of positions in local government.

In 2016 Reed resigned his position as Shadow Minister for Local Government in protest over Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party.

In 2020 he was appointed Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government by Sir Keir Starmer and in 2021 was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Justice and Shadow Lord Chancellor.

In a final reshuffle in 2023 he was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Lisa Nandy – Culture Secretary

Nandy has been MP for Wigan since 2010 and has served as Shadow Energy Secretary, Shadow Foreign Secretary, Shadow Levelling Up Secretary and Shadow International Development minister.

Anneliese Dodds – Equalities Minister

Dodds has been MP of Oxford East since 2017 and has held positions as Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities in 2021.

Hilary Benn – Northern Ireland Secretary

Benn, a son of veteran Labour MP Tony Benn, has been MP for Leeds South since 1999.

He’s held a variety of government roles including Minister of State at the Department for International Development under Tony Blair, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs under Gordon Brown and Shadow Foreign Secretary in 2015.

Ian Murray – Scotland Secretary

Murray has been MP of Edinburgh South since 2010 and was appointed as Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland in 2015.

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Jo Stevens – Wales Secretary

Stevens has been MP of Cardiff East since 2010 and under Corbyn served as Shadow Solicitor General and Shadow Justice Minister. She was then appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Wales in 2016.

Lucy Powell – Commons Leader

Powell has been MP for Manchester Central since 2012 and has held a variety of positions in the Shadow Cabinet including Housing, Education, Cabinet Office, DCMS and was appointed the Shadow Leader of the House of Commons in 2023.

Baroness Angela Smith – Lords Leader

Baroness Smith was elected MP of Basildon in the 1997 general election and was appointed a Government Whip in 2001 and held a number of positions under both the Blair and Brown governments.

She lost the 2010 election after unfavourable boundary changes affected her hew seat and she was then created a life peer as Baroness Smith of Basildon.

Sir Patrick Vallance – Science Minister

You’ll probably remember Sir Patrick from the daily COVID briefings held during the pandemic. As he’s not an MP he will be awarded a peerage so he is able to take up the role.

James Timpson – Prisons Minister

You might wonder why a man who runs a chain of shoe repair and key cutting shops has been appointed to Starmer’s cabinet as Prison’s Minister. Timpson is an ardent proponent of prison reform and his firm Timpsons, has employed over 600 prison leavers in the UK.

Jacqui Smith – Education Secretary

Smith was MP for Reddich from 1997 to 2010 and served in a variety of roles such as Minister for Schools, Chief Whip and Home Secretary.

She stepped back from frontline politics in 2009 after she was implemented in the widespread MPs expenses scandal[5]BBC News: MPs’ expenses: The Legacy of a Scandal and lost her seat at the 2010 election.

Since 2010 she’s worked as a consultant for KMPG, co-hosted a radio show, a podcast and appeared on Strictly Come Dancing in 2020 where she was the first contestant voted off.

Controversial Decisions

Starmer has decided not to appoint a dedicated Veterans Minister to his cabinet and instead they will be looked after by Defence Secretary John Healey.

Organisations such as “Help For Heroes” called the Prime Minister’s decision “disappointing”[6]Independent: Keir Starmer will not appoint dedicated veterans’ minister sitting in cabinet.

There was also surprise that Labour “big hitter” Emily Thornberry did not receive a cabinet position[7]Sky News: Emily Thornberry left out of Labour cabinet – as Sir Keir Starmer insists she has ‘big part to play’. Thornberry had been Starmer’s Shadow Attorney General and has been MP for Islington South and Finsbury since 2005.

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Featured Image: Press Pool Photo

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