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Rachel Reeves becomes first female chancellor and Rayner’s deputy prime minister as Starmer names top team

Rachel Reeves becomes first female chancellor and Rayner’s deputy prime minister as Starmer names top team

Sir Keir Starmer has made Rachel Reeves Britain’s first female chancellor as he appoints his new cabinet to hit the ground running.

One of the easiest appointments for the new prime minister was that of Ms Reeves as his new chancellor.

He played a key role in the campaign and, as a former Bank of England economist, helped restore economic credibility to the Labour Party after the collapse of the Jeremy Corbyn years.

She is the first woman to hold the second-highest government post in the office’s 708 years of existence.

Reeves arrives in Downing Street on Friday
Reeves arrives in Downing Street on Friday (Environmental protection agency)

Angela Rayner had previously been given her own department as secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities, replacing Michael Gove.

There had been doubts about whether he could get a travelling post, but he had followed Mr Gove with some success and longed for a department.

Angela Rayner arrives in Downing Street to receive promotion and be named deputy prime minister
Angela Rayner arrives in Downing Street to receive promotion and be named deputy prime minister (Environmental protection agency)

Ms Rayner, who will also be deputy first minister – the second woman to hold the role after Therese Coffey in Liz Truss’s 49-day government – will mirror the role of John Prescott, who was Tony Blair’s deputy and also ran the department for local government and development.

Just 24 hours before people went to the polls, Sir Keir was still evasive about who would fill the top jobs, refusing in interviews to guarantee anyone a position.

This was partly due to Neil Kinnock’s failure in 1992, when he unveiled his new cabinet at an infamous rally in Sheffield but lost the election.

Wes Streeting is set to be appointed as the new health secretary
Wes Streeting is set to be appointed as the new health secretary (News from heaven)

But many of the names in Sir Keir’s first cabinet were easy to predict.

David Lammy, Wes Streeting, Bridget Phillipson, Yvette Cooper and Pat McFadden have already taken up positions in the new government.

Mr Streeting joked to reporters about his new role, saying: “We’ll find out in a minute.”

Mr Lammy smiled as reporters questioned him as he made his way through Downing Street. He did not have to wait long to be confirmed as foreign secretary, following speculation that the job might go to another experienced MP, possibly newcomer Douglas Alexander.

Yvette Cooper arrives to become Secretary of the Interior
Yvette Cooper arrives to become Secretary of the Interior (News from heaven)

Ms Cooper has been appointed Home Secretary, a role she previously held, while John Healey is the new Defence Secretary.

Pat McFadden was rewarded for his success as campaign coordinator by getting the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to head the powerful Cabinet, often described as the engine room of government.

Streeting, another stalwart, has been named the new health secretary after retaining his east London seat by just a few hundred votes. It was a sign that Sir Keir intends to stick with the shadow team that helped secure victory.

New Justice Secretary and Chancellor Shabana Mahmood arrives in Downing Street
New Justice Secretary and Chancellor Shabana Mahmood arrives in Downing Street (News from heaven)

Another clear choice was rising star Ms Phillipson, who, like Mr Streeting, gave an in-depth interview to The Independent during the election, and became Education Secretary after becoming the first MP elected that night in Sunderland South.

After surviving a scare caused by a pro-Gaza independent in Birmingham Ladywood, key Starmer ally Shabana Mahmood has been appointed Justice Secretary.

In one of the rare surprises, Lisa Nandy has been promoted to culture secretary, after the incumbent in her shadow cabinet, Thangam Debbonaire, lost his Bristol Central seat to the Greens.

Ms Nandy had been demoted in the Labour leader’s latest reshuffle in 2023 to shadow minister for international development.

Former leader Ed Miliband has been appointed secretary of state for energy security and net zero in a sign Sir Keir will push ahead with an agenda to tackle climate change despite abandoning his £28bn green deal plan.

Sir Keir has also appointed Liz Kendall as work and pensions secretary, Jonathan Reynolds as business and trade secretary and president of the Board of Trade, while Peter Kyle becomes science secretary.

At just 36, Louise Haigh becomes the youngest cabinet minister in modern times as Transport Secretary, again retaining her former shadow cabinet role.

Bridget Phillipson is the new education secretary
Bridget Phillipson is the new education secretary (News from heaven)

Other planned appointments include Steve Reed as Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn as Northern Ireland Secretary, Ian Murray as Scottish Secretary and Jo Stevens as Secretary of State for Wales.