A Shadow Cabinet best left in the shadows.

When Sir Keir Starmer first announced his shadow cabinet back in April 2020, we reviewed the members and could only find the unelected Lord Falconer, who seemed to believe in enacting the democratic vote of 2016 to leave the EU.  Following the loss of the Hartlepool by-election in May this year we reviewed the reshuffle and found Labour still couldn’t find any MPs for the shadow cabinet who like 52% of voters, supported us leaving the EU.

Sir Keir has again shuffled the shadow cabinet and we have reviewed it to see if any of the new intake are more reflective of the British electorate?

Shadow Minister of State at the Cabinet Office – Baroness Chapman of Darlington

Jennifer Chapman came into her role in June this year.  Previously an MP, she campaigned to remain in the European Union in the 2016 EU membership referendum.  Not wanting to honour the referendum result in 2019 she said “We got here through a democratic vote and the only way to proceed is through another democratic vote”.

Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland – Peter Kyle MP

Kyle campaigned for remain during the EU membership referendum, 2016. In June 2018, he said “Brexit is a big deal but it’s not a done deal”. Kyle put forward an amendment to Theresa May’s Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, aimed at not honouring the original referendum, and to pass the Withdrawal Agreement Bill on the condition that the deal on offer would go back to the British people through a confirmatory vote.

Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care – Wes Streeting MP

Streeting campaigned against Brexit in the run up to the 2016 EU membership referendum.  Not honouring the original referendum he tweeted that the NEC had “made the right call and confirmed that a public vote will be in our manifesto for the European elections”.  He described those who believed we could walk away from the EU without a deal as “Brextremists”.

Shadow Secretary of State for the Home Department – Yvette Cooper MP

Ms Cooper said the Leave campaign was “being led by the hard right of the Tory party” who had “never been friends to public services or low-paid workers.  During the Brexit process, Cooper consistently fought against honouring the referendum result if it meant a no-deal Brexit.  Cooper tabled a private members’ bill, again with the intended effect of preventing a “no-deal” Brexit.  In the complete opposite of what we have seen in reality with rising wages she said “working people will be hardest hit by Brexit”.

We can see none of the new Shadow Cabinet members are supporters of Brexit.  But Labour also have people attending the Shadow Cabinet, let’s see how they fair?

Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury – Pat McFadden MP

Pat McFadden was opposed to a no deal Brexit and supports a close trading relationship with the European Union.  Not honouring the original vote, McFadden was in favour of a second referendum to give the people a final say on leaving the European Union (note to Pat, we had already had that say).

Opposition Chief Whip in the House of Lords – Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Roy Kennedy, Baron Kennedy of Southwark took up the role in June.  Baron Southwark appears to have a problem with constrained labour markets giving working people a pay rise.

Once again not one MP, not one Lord, in favour like 52% of voters, of Brexit.  Worse than that many members of the Shadow Cabinet wanted to ignore the referendum and have the people of Britain vote again, and no doubt again, and again, and again, until we voted the way they wanted.  The Labour Party is not yet proving it can be trusted with democracy.

Not listening, not learning, not interested in democracy, not providing an effect opposition.

In April 2020 Sir Keir Starmer was elected Leader of the Labour Party and therefore became Leader of the Opposition.  He soon appointed a shadow cabinet, who as we pointed out, by overwhelmingly calling for the 2016 EU Referendum to not be implemented, were no respecters of democracy. 

Following the loss of the Hartlepool by-election, and other local government losses, Sir Keir has reshuffled his shadow cabinet and we take a look at the new members, since our last review to see if Labour has changed to reflect the will of the British people.

Shadow Secretary of State for Education: Kate Green

Kate believed that democratic vote of the people in 2016 should just be ignored, stating on Twitter in 2019: “Now that #Brexit talks have collapsed, it’s even clearer the only way out of this Brexit mess is to give the public a #FinalSay #Labour4ConfirmatoryVote”

Shadow Secretary of State for Housing: Lucy Powell                                                    

Lucy has to be fair been taking note of what the people say.  Saying in 2020 to the HuffPost UK:

“It’s not just about Brexit, although Brexit was a big symbolic expression of Labour losing touch with its traditional voter base.      

“And we can’t keep putting two fingers up to people if we want them to vote for us again and support us and be part of the agenda that we want for the future.”

This is progress, however it is worth noting the following from her Wikipedia page:  “She joined the pro-Euro and pro-EU Treaty pressure group Britain in Europe (BiE), originally in a public relations role and later as head of regional campaigning. She later replaced Simon Buckby as Campaign Director of BiE”      

Shadow Chief Whip: Alan Campbell                                                    

Remain supporting Alan Campbell, is another so called representative who believed that democratic vote of the people in 2016 should just be ignored.  Writing on his own website in 2019 he said: “But before we take that leap of faith I believe we should ask people to confirm that that’s what they voted for.”           

National Campaign Coordinator: Shabana Mahmood                                                 

Campaigning for Britain to remain in the European Union, as she wrote on her website Shabana has “always believed that to crash out of the EU with no deal would be unthinkable.” Likewise on Twitter she has said: “On top of that, we are unable to properly scrutinise the millions upon millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money being spent on preparation for a disastrous No Deal #Brexit”.           


Labour lost the ‘red wall’ in the General Election of 2019, we have seen party voting split increasingly along Brexit voting lines, and seen the working class turn their backs on Labour. These trends were reconfirmed in the 2021 local elections and Hartlepool by-election. 

Surely Labour could have found 1 MP who supported the will of 52% of the people to enter the shadow cabinet?  For the sake of democracy we need an opposition that looks capable of forming a government.  We don’t appear to have an opposition that respects democracy. 

Be worried for our democracy if these people ever form a government

Whether it’s tying the hands of the negotiators, or straight out calling for ignoring the 2016 Referendum, Labour’s new Shadow Cabinet have proven they can’t be trusted with our democracy.

All quotes and references below are from after the British people had settled the question of Brexit in the 2016 Referendum

Ironically the unelected Lord Falconer, Shadow Attorney General seems to be the only one who believes in enacting the democratic vote of 2016.

We should all be worried for our democracy if these people ever form a government.

Sir Keir Starmer, Leader of the Opposition

“Keir Starmer has been forced to reaffirm that Labour has not ruled out a referendum that could cancel Brexit”

24 September 2018 https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/sep/24/keir-starmer-labour-does-not-rule-out-remaining-in-eu

“A new referendum on a final Brexit deal should be “on the table”, shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer has said.”

23 August 2018 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-45281677

“Keir Starmer says Brexit ‘can be stopped’,”

12 November 2018 https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-keir-starmer-labour-jeremy-corbyn-sky-news-interview-peoples-vote-referendum-a8629426.html

Angela Rayner, Deputy Leader and Chair of the Labour Party

“No deal wouldn’t return sovereignty to the UK, it would make us dependent on a sweetheart deal with Donald Trump.”

25 July 2019 https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jul/25/boris-johnson-bluster-labour-optimism-uk

Anneliese Dodds, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer

“No-deal Brexit must come off the negotiation table, says Oxford East Labour MP”

9 October 2019 https://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/17954734.no-deal-brexit-must-come-off-negotiation-table-says-oxford-east-labour-mp-anneliese-dodds/

Lisa Nandy, Shadow Foreign Secretary

“We should have been bold enough to defend free movement, and the opportunities and benefits it brings.

15 January 2020 https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/lisa-nandy-labour-free-movement-leadership-contest-corbyn-brexit-a9284976.html

Nick Thomas-Symonds, Shadow Home Secretary

“It seems to me is what we’ve seen is a hard-headed assessment of reality, that sets out in really stark terms what a calamitous outcome of no-deal Brexit would mean for the United Kingdom,” lawmaker Nick Thomas-Symonds told Sky News television. “The government is reckless in the way it’s been pushing forward with no-deal planning in this way.”

18 August 2019 https://apnews.com/1499de77308e4c798a7b4059e61f80f4

Rachel Reeves, Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

“I would like Labour to be clear that if there was a referendum, we would campaign to Remain”

29 November 2018 https://www.politicshome.com/the-house/article/rachel-reeves-i-would-like-labour-to-be-clear-that-if-there-was-a-referendum-we-would-campaign-to-remain

David Lammy, Shadow Justice Secretary

“David Lammy has said comparing the hard-Brexit European Research Group of Tory MPs to Nazis and proponents of South African apartheid was “not strong enough”

14 April 2019 https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/apr/14/comparing-erg-to-nazis-not-strong-enough-says-david-lammy

John Healey, Shadow Defence Secretary

“put that deal to the people for their final say: leaving the EU with a credible properly negotiated deal vs remain and both protecting jobs.”

19 September 2019 http://www.johnhealeymp.co.uk/brexit-update-2/

Ed Miliband, Shadow Business, Energy and Industrial Secretary

“Ed Miliband has been accused of “taking voters for fools” after claiming in an election leaflet he voted nine times for a Brexit deal…..    Miliband has in the past backed a second referendum, as well as a Norway-style Brexit deal and remaining part of the EU customs union after leaving.  But he has never backed either Theresa May or Boris Johnson’s Brexit deals.”

28th November 2019 https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/ed-miliband-brexit-deal-election-leaflet_uk_5ddfc14ae4b0d50f329d8448

Emily Thornberry, Shadow International Trade Secretary

“No-Deal Brexit Should NOT Be On Ballot For People’s Vote”

15 May 2019 https://www.lbc.co.uk/radio/presenters/iain-dale/no-deal-brexit-not-ballot-peoples-vote-thornberry/

Jonathan Reynolds, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary

“Leaving without any deal could be a mistake of historic proportions for this country”

18 July 2019 https://hydecorrespondent.co.uk/?p=794

Jonathan Ashworth, Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

“Here we have another body warning of the devastating impact a no deal Brexit could have on the NHS….It is scandalous that by stubbornly refusing to rule out No Deal”

27 September 2019 https://labour.org.uk/press/devastating-impact-no-deal-brexit-nhs-jon-ashworth/

Rebecca Long-Bailey, Shadow Education Secretary

Labour frontbencher Rebecca Long-Bailey refuses to say if second referendum is a ‘red line’ if government agrees to party’s proposals

28 April 2019 https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/brexit-news-latest-labour-frontbencher-rebecca-longbailey-refuses-to-say-if-second-referendum-is-a-a4128446.html

Jo Stevens, Shadow Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

“Jo Stevens, has resigned from her post, saying she could not reconcile herself to voting to trigger article 50 as she still believed leaving the EU would be “a terrible mistake”.”

27 January 2017 https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jan/27/labour-mp-jo-stevens-quits-shadow-cabinet-over-article-50-vote

Bridget Philipson, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

“And the reason I believe the voters must have the final say on Brexit isn’t because I reject their concerns. Far from it. Concerns about trust in our politics, and the voters we have lost, are obviously valid. Ultimately, I support a referendum because I think leaving would cause far more serious and far more lasting damage.”

2 June 2019 https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/02/constituency-voted-leave-labour-oppose-brexit-sunderland

Luke Pollard, Shadow Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary

“I am not a fan of referendums. The last one was rubbish and the two campaigns were terrible. But if MPs cannot agree a way ahead then the people should have the final say instead.”

1 June 2019 https://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/news/news-opinion/only-way-break-brexit-deadlock-2930683

Steve Reed, Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary

“We respect the referendum result. ….. We won’t support a deal at any price….we must let the people take back control of Brexit and decide our country’s future through a People’s Vote.”

21 November 2018 https://www.standard.co.uk/comment/steve-reed-mp-we-must-let-the-country-take-back-control-and-decide-with-people-s-vote-a3995906.html

Thangam Debbonaire, Shadow Housing Secretary

“First, let me assure you that I campaigned hard for Remain during the 2016 referendum, and still believe that the best relationship we can have with the European Union is full membership. And if, reluctantly, we do have to leave, then at the very least, we should stay in a customs union and Single Market arrangement”

~2018 https://www.debbonaire.co.uk/my-views/european-union/peoples-vote/

Jim McMahon, Shadow Transport Secretary

“Labour has set out a common sense position which serves our national interest of a stable transition lasting up to four years through full participation in the Single Market and Customs Union.”

31 August 2018 https://jimmcmahoncouk.wordpress.com/2017/08/31/brexit-smooth-landing/

Preet Kaur Gill, Shadow International Development Secretary

“the MP for Birmingham Edgbaston, is backing calls for “a final say on Brexit.”  And she said she is encouraging people to attend a demonstration in London planned for March 23 to oppose Brexit.”

12 March 2019 https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/birmingham-mp-preet-kaur-gill-15943548

Louise Haigh, Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary (interim)

“It was so depressing to see every single option voted down and I was disappointed with colleagues who abstained on the customs union and didn’t let those votes pass because they have really retreated into quite an extreme position on Brexit now.”

28 March 2019 https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/politics/brexit-branded-depressing-embarrassing-and-disaster-frustrated-yorkshire-mps-1757627

Ian Murray, Shadow Scotland Secretary

“I am the most pro-EU candidate standing to be Labour’s deputy leader. I am proud to have voted against triggering Article 50, helping to form the People’s Vote campaign and leading the successful court challenge against Boris Johnson’s prorogation of parliament.”

27 January 2020 https://www.politics.co.uk/comment-analysis/2020/01/27/if-i-m-deputy-leader-labour-will-stay-true-to-european-value

Nia Griffith, Shadow Wales Secretary

“A no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic for our defence and security interests”

28 January 2019 https://fabians.org.uk/the-writing-on-the-wall/

Marsha de Cordova, Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary

“Since becoming Battersea’s MP in 2017, I have been a passionate campaigner: fighting a damaging Brexit”

~2019 https://vote.labour.org.uk/marsha-de-cordova

Andy McDonald, Shadow Employment Rights and Protections Secretary

“The Shadow Transport Secretary said Britain was “looking down the barrel” of a no-deal Brexit and the only alternative was continued membership of the bloc.  But he also insisted that any Brexit deal agreed by parliament must be put back to the people.”

7 June 2019 https://www.politicshome.com/news/article/frontbench-jeremy-corbyn-ally-says-labour-wants-second-brexit-referendum-and-will-back-remain

Rosena Allin-Khan, Shadow Minister for Mental Health

“Rosena was also the first shadow frontbench minister to come out publicly and call for a People’s Vote.”

19 March 2020 https://www.theneweuropean.co.uk/top-stories/seb-dance-on-rosena-allin-khan-s-deputy-leadership-bid-1-6569195

Cat Smith, Shadow Minister for Young People and Voter Engagement

“Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Cat Smith voted in favour of three of the options, including holding a confirmatory referendum”

2 April 2019 https://www.lancasterguardian.co.uk/news/lancaster-mp-votes-favour-confirmatory-referendum-brexit-651192

Lord Falconer, Shadow Attorney General

To be fair this ones alright…

“Remainer Lord Falconer says he does not want a vote on the Brexit deal, because the referendum was conducted on the basis of “in or out”

3 June 2018 https://www.lbc.co.uk/radio/alastair-campbell-lord-falconer-david-lammy-eu-ref/

Valerie Vaz, Shadow Leader of the House

“The Government’s decision to delay the meaningful vote has run down the clock and increased the risk of a no-deal Brexit. I co-signed a letter to The Prime Minister along with more than 220 colleagues to urge the Government to agree a mechanism that would ensure a no deal Brexit could not take place.”

11 January 2019 https://www.valerievazmp.co.uk/valerie-vaz-mp-opposes-a-no-deal-brexit/

Nick Brown, Opposition Chief Whip

“Another senior Labour figure has confirmed he would campaign for remain in a second EU referendum, as Brexit looks set to become a flashpoint at the party’s conference in Brighton.  In an email seen by the Guardian, Labour’s chief whip, Nick Brown, told his constituents this week he would campaign for remain, joining his senior colleagues John McDonnell, Diane Abbott, Emily Thornberry, Keir Starmer and Tom Watson in backing that position.”

13 September 2019 https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/13/nick-brown-joins-senior-labour-figures-vowing-back-remain

Baroness Smith, Shadow Leader of the Lords

“To crash out of the EU without arrangements in place for co-operation on trade, agriculture, fisheries, security, energy and the environment would be grossly reckless and irresponsible.”

5 December 2018 https://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/17277892.baroness-angela-smith-labels-potential-no-deal-brexit-as-grossly-reckless-and-irresponsible/

Lord McAvoy, Lords’ Opposition Chief Whip

“the Labour whip, saying Brexit must not undermine the government’s obligations under the Good Friday”

27 February 2017 https://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/live/2017/feb/27/lords-article-50-bill-debate-gordon-brown-leads-tributes-to-gerald-kaufman-politics-live

Feature Image and above – © User:Colin / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0