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.
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.
“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.”
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.”
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.”
“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”
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.”
“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.”
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.”
“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.”
“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.”