Wales politics

Owen Smith returns to Labour's shadow cabinet

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Media captionOwen Smith says he hopes to play a part in efforts to restore power-sharing

One-time Labour leadership contender Owen Smith is back in the shadow cabinet.

The Pontypridd MP been appointed shadow Northern Ireland secretary by Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Smith resigned as shadow secretary of state for work and pensions in 2016 to unsuccessfully challenge Mr Corbyn for Labour's top job.

He tweeted: "Helping bring about peace and power sharing in N Ireland is one Labour's proudest achievements."

Image caption Nia Griffith became shadow defence secretary last autumn

Mr Smith increased his majority to almost 11,500 from almost 9,000 at last week's general election.

"I'm honoured to be our new Shadow SOS for NI," he added in his tweet.

Mr Smith worked as a special adviser to former Torfaen MP Paul Murphy when he served as Northern Ireland secretary.

He is the only senior figure who quit the frontbench in 2016 to return following Labour's better-than-expected election result.

Image caption Christina Rees has been shadow Welsh secretary since February

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

Llanelli MP Nia Griffith has been told she is to continue her role as shadow defence secretary and Neath MP Christina Rees remains shadow Welsh secretary.

Mr Corbyn has told his MPs Labour must remain in "permanent campaign mode" and prepare for a fresh general election at any time.

Analysis by Nick Servini, BBC Wales political editor

The decision by Jeremy Corbyn to bring Owen Smith back into the fold is bound to be seen in the context of unity.

He is the most high-profile critic, and challenger, of the Labour leader to be appointed in the shadow cabinet.

Supporters of Jeremy Corbyn will point to it as a sign that he is serious about uniting the party together all the bitter recriminations of the past two years.

There have been limited opportunities to bring people into a shadow cabinet where loyalty has clearly been rewarded.

There is a degree of practicality as well. The Pontypridd MP was an adviser to Paul Murphy when he was Northern Ireland secretary so he will have background knowledge of its notoriously intractable problems.

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