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UK Opposition Leader Shuffles His Team

The UK’s opposition party leader Ed Miliband announced a reshuffle to his shadow cabinet on Friday in a move that was widely expected following a change to the Labour party’s rules which had previously meant shadow cabinet members had to be elected by the party.

Ed Miliband, UK Labour party leader
Photo: Offriorob
Ed Miliband, UK Labour party leader

There were few significant moves. However they did include the promotion to the frontbench team of Chuka Umunna, the MP for Streatham, South London nicknamed the Barack Obama of British politics, who becomes the Labour party’s spokesman on business, and Rachel Reeves, the MP for Leeds East and the former Bank of England economist, who joins the Labour party’s Treasury team becoming a spokesperson on economic policy.

Both politicians are seen as rising stars within the Labour party and both were only elected to parliament at the last general election in May 2010.

Meanwhile, Tom Watson, who rose to national prominence in the UK during the phone hacking scandal at the now closed News of the World due to his role in the subsequent inquiry, has been promoted to deputy chairman of the Labour party.

Watson was considered a possible contender to replace Culture, Media and Sport spokesman Chris Grayling after he eclipsed his colleague both in the House of Commons and during several hearings of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, most notably during the hearings with both James and Rupert Murdoch.

Watson is believed to have been offered the post but told CNBC.com that taking the role “would mean resigning from the [select] committee and I don’t want that”. He did not confirm whether he was offered the position.

Instead that role will be carried out by Labour’s deputy leader and Labour party chairwoman Harriet Harman.

However, returns to the Labour party frontbench for former finance spokesman and home secretary Alan Johnson, and the Labour leader’s brother, former rival for the Labour leadership and foreign secretary David Miliband did not emerge.

“I am determined that my shadow cabinet not only holds this government to account but speaks to the public and the country," the Labour leader said in a statement.

“Families across Britain are worried about how they will make ends meet, anxious about what the future holds for their children and tired of the way irresponsibility is tolerated across our society. Together we will show how the government are failing to help families who face a cost of living crisis, how they are failing to take action on energy bills and rail fares and failing to get the economy moving again,” Ed Miliband also said.