Clive Lewis returns to frontbench in Labour reshuffle

Houses Of Parliament

Jeremy Corbyn has brought Clive Lewis back on to Labour’s front bench and promoted campaigning new MP Laura Pidcock as he announced 13 new appointments to the junior ranks.

Lewis, the Norwich South MP who resigned over Labour’s Brexit stance and was recently cleared of a claim of sexual harassment, will be a junior shadow Treasury minister.

Pidcock, who has been a vocal critic of the government’s welfare reform policies, including universal credit, will be the new shadow minister for labour. The MP for North West Durham, who is regarded by some of Corbyn’s allies as a potential leader, told the Guardian recently that she was in parliament to bring about radical change in the way Britain is run. “I’m a politician. I was elected on a set of principles. I want structural change, I don’t want piecemeal change” she said.

Corbyn said: “I am pleased to make these appointments to strengthen Labour’s frontbench team, which is now a government in waiting.

“I look forward to working with them in their new roles holding the government to account, developing policy to transform our country and, with their shadow secretary of states, preparing to form a government that will deliver for the many not the few.”

Pidcock was one of six new-intake MPs handed junior frontbench roles. Others include Dan Carden, who previously worked for the Unite union leader, Len McCluskey, and won the safe seat of Liverpool Walton in June, after a tough selection battle with the city’s longstanding mayor Joe Anderson.

Another newcomer, Karen Lee, the former nurse who is MP for Lincoln, was given the job of shadow fire minister vacated by Corbynite MP Chris Williamson on Thursday. He stepped down after angering colleagues by publicly advocating a doubling of council tax.

Lewis told the Guardian: “I think the challenge for us now, neck and neck with the Tories, as has been stated by Jeremy and others, is to convince those people who still have doubts that a Corbyn-led Labour government will fix this economy and make it work for the many, not the few”.

Williamson said on Friday he had not been sacked by Corbyn, and intended to continue defending the Labour leader from the backbenches.

But the shadow communities secretary, Andrew Gwynne, was forced to issue a statement repudiating comments about increasing council tax he had made in an interview to the Huffington Post website, and that were immediately seized on by the Conservatives.

Lewis was recently cleared of claims that he grabbed a Labour activist’s bottom at a party event. He also had to apologise after footage emerged showing him shouting, “get on your knees, bitch,” at a man.

A Corbyn-supporter, he was regarded as a rising star before resigning as shadow business secretary last year after refusing to obey the party’s three-line whip and vote for the bill allowing Theresa May to trigger article 50, the formal process for leaving the European Union.

None of the new appointments are at shadow cabinet level, where Corbyn has retainedthose on the left of the party who stepped into vacant roles when scores of MPs resigned in the wake of 2016’s EU referendum.

Hopes of a “unity reshuffle” after the general election quickly dissipated, apart from the inclusion of Owen Smith, who challenged Corbyn for the leadership, as shadow Northern Ireland secretary.

Among the other appointments, none of which are at shadow cabinet level, is the Dewsbury MP, Paula Sherriff, who has campaigned for the abolition of VAT on sanitary products.

Sherriff becomes shadow social care and mental health minister, exchanging jobs with Jack Dromey, who takes over as shadow minister for pensions. Dromey, the MP for Birmingham Erdington, has been an advocate of the Waspi campaign to compensate women hit by changes to the state pension age. Labour is keen to win over older voters, who overwhelmingly backed the Tories last June.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Heather Stewart Political editor, for The Guardian on Friday 12th January 2018 22.12 Europe/London

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