Same old Labour! Starmer hands ex-Remainer MEP role of reconnecting with Brexit voters

Keir Starmer reshuffles cabinet following Labour election loss

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In the wake of a dismal set of election results, the Labour leader has sought to relaunch his leadership with a reshuffle of his Shadow Cabinet. Looking to reset, a number of changes were made to Labour’s top team late last night.

They included Rachel Reeves being promoted to Shadow Chancellor, while Anneliese Dodds, her predecessor in the role, becomes party chairman.

Ms Dodds will also take on the role of chair of Labour Policy Review.

The MP for Oxford East since June 2017 was formerly an MEP in Brussels.

She spent four years in the European Parliament representing the South East of England.

Before entering politics, Ms Dodds worked as an academic with her research focusing on public policy and risk in different industries, sectors and nations.

The pro-EU MP will be in charge of working out how to re-connect Labour with its Brexit-supporting voters in so-called “red wall” seats.

Former Labour heartlands in the north of England overwhelmingly abandoned Sir Keir’s party in their droves in Thursday’s elections.

In the Hartlepool by-election, a Conservative MP was elected to represent the town for the first time in over 50 years, while scores of council seats across the north of the country also switched from red to blue.

It continued a trend that first began in 2019 when many constituencies in the north elected a Conservative MP for the first time following Boris Johnson’s pledge to “get Brexit done”.

Sir Keir Starmer, who promoted the UK’s place in the EU while shadow Brexit secretary, hand-picked a pro-Remain candidate to contest the seat for the party.

Former Labour MP for the Yorkshire seat of Don Valley, Caroline Flint, has been critical of the party’s failure to understand the priorities of voters.

“There are real lessons to learn, and part of it is how does Labour re-connect with working-class communities in the north and the midlands in a way they accept that they let them now, they let them down in 2019, not the reverse,” she said following the Hartlepool by-election loss.

She added: “Another candidate probably wouldn’t have won but a pro People’s Vote candidate was daft and disrespectful.”

Meanwhile, Birmingham MP and former member of Sir Keir’s top team, Khalid Mahmood, said the Hartlepool by-election should be a “wake-up call” for Labour.

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He wrote in a blog for the Policy Exchange think tank:”Labour has lost touch with ordinary British people.

“A London-based bourgeoisie, with the support of brigades of woke social media warriors, has effectively captured the party.

“They mean well, of course, but their politics – obsessed with identity, division and even tech utopianism – have more in common with those of Californian high society than the kind of people who voted in Hartlepool yesterday.”

Sir Keir announced on Friday he was launching the review of the party’s policies in response to election losses in Brexit-supporting areas of the country.

Following her demotion, Chancellor Rishi Sunak praised Ms Dodds on social media.

He said: “In an incredibly tough year Anneliese Dodds has been a thoughtful and constructive Shadow Chancellor, I wish her all the best.

“Congratulations Rachel Reeves on your appointment.

“I look forward to working together to ensure our plan for jobs continues to help the country recover.”

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