The Team Set to Run Starmer’s New UK Labour Government

(Bloomberg) -- A former Bank of England economist, the first Black Briton to attend Harvard Law School and an ex-union worker are among those given top jobs in Britain’s first Labour government in 14 years.

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Keir Starmer, now prime minister after Labour inflicted a crushing defeat on the Conservatives in Thursday’s election, wasted no time in rewarding allies who supported him as he dragged the party from the left toward the political center ground in his bid for power. These are the key appointments so far:

Rachel Reeves, 45, Chancellor of the Exchequer

Reeves, shadow chancellor since 2021, becomes Britain’s first female finance minister. A brief stint as an economist at the Bank of England ended 18 years ago, but she has made her past employer a central part of her public image to emphasize Labour’s economic credibility. Inheriting challenges ranging from highest debt burden since the 1960s to sluggish productivity growth, she has pledged to revitalize the UK economy by driving investment and overhauling the planning system. Still, some policies popular on the Labour left will remain, including abolishing value-added-tax exemptions for private schools.

Angela Rayner, 44, Deputy Prime Minister

Rayner, who grew up in poverty and left school with no qualifications, rose through the ranks of the labor union, Unison, and maintains close links to the movement that provides a sizable portion of Labour’s funding. In opposition she served as shadow deputy prime minister. She describes herself as part of Labour’s “soft left” and has pledged to tackle homelessness. She has said she will have a major role in Labour’s pledge to boost housebuilding and the supply of affordable homes. The Conservatives often made Rayner the target of their political attacks, and even urged the police to investigate allegations she broke electoral law becoming an MP. The probe was dropped in late May.

David Lammy, 51, Foreign Secretary

Lammy is a friend of former US President Barack Obama and the first Black Briton to attend Harvard Law School. He has warned that China poses “real security threats” and pledged “ironclad” British support for Ukraine, which he plans to visit next month. Lammy met President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during May’s D-Day commemorations in Normandy, contrasting Rishi Sunak’s decision to cut short his visit. He has called Brexit a “national tragedy” and said he’d “get into negotiation” with the European Union when the post-Brexit trade agreement is reviewed in 2025. A Labour government would be “an opportunity to turn the page on the post-Brexit rancor,” Lammy said at the Institute for Government in May. “We need to get back on trusted, friendly terms.”

Yvette Cooper, 55, Home Secretary

Elected to Parliament in 1997, Cooper has experience of government already. She became the first female Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 2008, serving as No. 2 to then-Chancellor Alistair Darling during the financial crisis, and was Work and Pensions Secretary until Labour lost power in 2010. Since then, she has held foreign and domestic policy briefs for the party, and ran unsuccessfully for the Labour leadership in 2015. She fought to delay leaving the EU to prevent an economically damaging “hard Brexit.” As shadow home secretary from 2021, Cooper said a Labour government would boost national security and put more police officers into local communities to tackle crime and anti-social behavior.

Sue Gray, 66, Senior Adviser

The former civil servant is best known by the public for investigating the “Partygate” allegations against ex-premier Boris Johnson and his team. Starmer appointed her his chief of staff last year. She has split opinion within Labour by shaking up senior appointments. Allies say she is popular with shadow ministers and has brought professionalism and experience of government to Starmer’s team. But some Labour officials told Bloomberg in February she is perfect leading the response to a terror attack but not to attacks from the Tory-leaning Daily Mail newspaper. She was seen as holding up a decision to ax £28 billion ($35 billion) of green spending, which Reeves and others wanted to scrap to ensure Labour had a leaner manifesto.

Morgan McSweeney, 47, Senior Adviser

Director of campaigns, McSweeney has been the new premier’s most trusted aide since running Starmer’s Labour leadership campaign in 2020. He spent months installing Starmer loyalists into safe parliamentary seats at the expense of the Labour left, Bloomberg reported in May. The ex-director of think tank Labour Together has tried to make the smallest target possible for Tory attacks, scaling back green stimulus plans and costing policy commitments.

Pat McFadden, 59, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

McFadden, an MP for almost two decades, oversaw Labour’s campaign, fielding questions from journalists after leadership debates in so-called “spin rooms” and batting away Conservative attack lines on the airwaves several times a week. In June, he switched to the offensive by climbing aboard the Labour press bus to distribute handouts with 20 questions picking apart the Tories’ costings that journalists “should ask.” He made headlines as a member of the Treasury Committee in 2014 when he described mixed messaging by then Bank of England Governor Mark Carney as worthy of an “unreliable boyfriend.”

(Updates with Rayner role on housebuilding in second profile. An earlier version of this story was corrected to to remove a reference to a non-profit in Morgan McSweeney’s profile.)

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