TIG’s 11 MPs have been handed roles, including Chuka Umunna as the Group Spokesperson.
The Independent Group have today announced the roles that each Member of Parliament will be undertaking as they attempt to change the country’s political landscape.
Last month, seven Labour MPs resigned to form a new centrist group and they have since been joined by one more Labour MP and three Conservative MPs. Disillusioned with the leadership within their respective parties (and by Labour’s prevalent antisemitism), TIG is attempting to find some common ground in the centre of the political spectrum.
Although they are not an official party yet, TIG have now assigned roles to their 11 MPs after meeting earlier this week to elect Gavin Shuker as convener and to dine at Nando’s.
Here are the various roles that TIG MPs will be undertaking.
Gavin Shuker – Convener
At TIG’s inaugural meeting in Westminster on the 25th February, Shuker was elected as the group’s convener by unanimous vote. But the Luton South MP has ruled out becoming the leader in the future, should TIG register as a political party.
Chuka Umunna – Group spokesperson, Cabinet Office, and government policy coordination
Umunna has been given the main role in TIG: he will be the group spokesperson. The Streatham MP has previously been tipped for the Labour leadership and he appears to be the figurehead of TIG.
Speaking in a video posted on Twitter shortly after being named Spokesperson, Umunna said: “We are not a political party and therefore do not have a leader, but the roles and responsibilities we have assigned recognise that all the members of our group have the right to be heard and a responsibility to provide leadership.”
Umunna will also be in charge of the Cabinet Office and government policy coordination. Having previously served as Shadow business secretary, Umunna is probably the most qualified TIG MP to perform these roles.
Heidi Allen – Welfare and pensions, social care, and business
Despite never holding a government post, ex-Conservative MP Allen is more than qualified for these roles.
She sits on the Work and Pensions select committee and before becoming a politician, the Cambridgeshire South MP worked in corporate positions at ExxonMobil and the Royal Mail, as well as running the RS Bike Paint Ltd family business.
Luciana Berger – Home affairs, health, and digital and culture
Berger has previously held two positions in the Shadow Cabinet relating to health. Between 2013 and 2015, Berger was the shadow minister for public health, before assuming a role as shadow minister for mental health until June 2016.
Before becoming a politician, the Liverpool Wavertree MP was a management consultant for Accenture, giving her experience in the digital industry. She also worked for the NHS Confederation – further boosting her health credentials.
Ann Coffey – Children and education
Coffey worked as a social worker for more than 10 years before deciding to go into politics. In the late 1980s, she was the fostering team leader for Oldham. These real life experiences will prepare the Stockport MP for her responsibility for children and education.
Mike Gapes – Foreign affairs and defence
Gapes is outspoken on foreign affairs and this role suits his political interests. He chaired the Foreign Affairs select committee for five years.
The Ilford South MP has previously publicly criticised Jeremy Corbyn’s foreign policy and he has expressed strong opinions on other countries, like Pakistan and Russia.
Chris Leslie – Treasury and trade
Leslie was the obvious choice for the treasury role, given his extensive experience in this department.
The Nottingham East MP was shadow treasury minister, shadow chancellor and shadow chief secretary to the treasury for periods of time in the past.
Joan Ryan – Group business manager, and international development
Ryan was not one of the seven MPs who defected from Labour but she joined TIG later in the day.
She has previously held roles in the whips’ office but she has not had a senior government post. The Enfield North MP will need to quickly adjust to her new roles in TIG.
Angela Smith – Transport, local government and housing, and energy, environment and rural affairs
Smith has been placed in charge of energy, environment, and rural affairs despite controversially supporting fracking. However, she does have plenty of experience dealing with environmental issues.
The Penistone and Stocksbridge MP sits on the board for environmental group The Polar Connection and has been awarded for her attempts to stop the badger cull. She also sits on the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs select committee, as well as the Transport select committee.
Anna Soubry – Brexit and justice (and assisting on defence)
Ex-Conservative MP Soubry has been tipped – alongside Umunna – to play a prominent role in the growth of TIG. Considering the group was formed by Eurosceptics disillusioned with the handling of Brexit, Soubry is arguably performing the most important role of all.
Having campaigned for a People’s Vote, the Broxtowe MP will be determined to carry that out as TIG’s main Brexit policy. Soubry also served as defence secretary so she is well-equipped to assist Gapes.
Sarah Wollaston – New colleagues
Wollaston, another former Conservative MP, is responsible “new colleagues”. The Totnes MP could be performing a vital role if TIG grows in popularity and more MPs are tempted to defect to the centrist group.