UK Politics

Shadow cabinet: Smith returns as Corbyn reshuffles top team

Owen Smith and Jeremy Corbyn Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Corbyn and Mr Smith fought a bitter leadership battle last year

Owen Smith, who challenged Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour leadership last year, has returned to the shadow cabinet in a mini reshuffle.

Mr Smith, who becomes shadow Northern Ireland secretary, is the only senior figure who quit the frontbench in 2016 to return following Labour's better-than-expected election result.

John McDonnell, Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry all keep their current jobs.

And campaign managers Andrew Gwynne and Ian Lavery are rewarded with new roles.

Mr Lavery will now chair the Labour Party while Mr Gwynne has been named shadow communities secretary. Both remain as co-national campaign co-ordinators in anticipation of what Labour believes could be another general election within months.

In other moves, the newly elected MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, Lesley Laird, becomes shadow Scottish secretary.

There had been speculation that the likes of Yvette Cooper and Hilary Benn might return to the shadow cabinet but they are likely to focus on securing re-election as chairs of the influential home affairs and Brexit select committees respectively.

Mr Corbyn said on Tuesday that his party should be in "permanent campaign mode" in light of Theresa May's attempts to form a minority government with the backing of the Democratic Unionists.

"I look forward to working with the strengthened shadow cabinet as we prepare a government in waiting to carry out our manifesto for the many not the few," Mr Corbyn said.

"I am therefore appointing Ian Lavery to the additional role of Labour Party chair to strengthen our campaigning and party organisation."

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