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LONDON — U.K. Labour leader Keir Starmer moved his deputy and effectively demoted a one-time leadership rival as he reshuffled his top team.

The opposition boss, whose party is ahead of the governing Conservatives in the polls with an expected 2024 general election looming, has shifted Angela Rayner to the housing and leveling-up brief.

Rayner, the directly-elected Labour deputy leader who Starmer has previously clashed with but who provides an important link with the party’s grassroots membership, moves from shadowing the Cabinet Office.

Lisa Nandy, who ran for Labour leader in the 2020 contest that saw Starmer triumph and once served as shadow foreign secretary, moves from the leveling-up brief to become Shadow Cabinet Minister for International Development.

That move will be seen in Westminster as a demotion for Nandy given that the U.K. currently has no department for international development after the Conservatives scrapped it in 2020 and merged it with the foreign office.

Nandy is seen as a key figure in the party’s soft-left faction. Since taking office, Starmer has attempted to move the party closer to the perceived political center-ground. An ally of Nandy warned against moving her on Monday morning, telling POLITICO London Playbook: “You’d be getting rid of someone on the soft left and a standard-bearer for that wing of the party.”

Also stepping down in the reshuffle is shadow secretary of state for environment, food, and rural affairs Jim McMahon.

Taking over that position is Starmer Ally Steve Reed, who leaves his post as justice secretary.

Shabana Mahmood will take on the justice brief, regarded as a promotion for her work as national campaign co-ordinator for the party, a key role in the run-up to the election.

The Labour reshuffle is also being closely watched to see whether Starmer mirrors departmental changes made by Rishi Sunak, when the Tory prime minister set up a dedicated tech and innovation ministry and hived off the energy department from the department for business.

This developing story is being updated. Dan Bloom contributed reporting.


For more polling data from across Europe visit POLITICO Poll of Polls.


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