Corbyn announces shadow UK cabinet | News | DW | 14.09.2015
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Corbyn announces shadow UK cabinet

After being elected as the opposition Labour party leader on Saturday, Jeremy Corbyn has moved quickly to reveal his shadow cabinet. The question is whether this will help heal the rift in the party.

Among the established names revealed on Sunday was Andy Burnham, one of Corbyn's challengers for the leadership of the UK's main opposition Labour party.

Burnham, who was the only rival not to refuse to join Corbyn's team, assumes the role of Shadow Home Secretary (Interior Minister) and is joined by John McDonnell as Shadow Chancellor (Finance Minister).

Their appointments come as Corbyn sought to reunify the party, after the anti-austerity politician was elected as Labour chief on Saturday by a wave of grassroots support. He won the backing of 59.5 percent of Labour party members despite warnings that he was steering the party too far to the left.

Andy Burnham

Leadership rival Andy Burnham was picked as Labour's Shadow interior Minister after losing the race to Corbyn on Saturday

Two months ago, the 66-year-old Corbyn had been seen as an unlikely successor to Ed Milliband, who resigned after Labour lost the UK general election to David Cameron's centre-right Conservatives in May.

While keen to break with the "New Labour" movement of the past two decades, Corbyn has kept several experienced ministers in his opposition cabinet, including Hilary Benn, who remains as Shadow Foreign Secretary and Lord Falconer, who becomes Shadow Justice Secretary. Both of them served under Labour's most recent administration led by Tony Blair and then Gordon Brown.

Among the women taking up shadow cabinet roles is Angela Eagle, who gets the shadow business brief, Heidi Alexander, who becomes Shadow Health Secretary, and Lucy Powell, who is Shadow Education Secretary.

Backbench plot likely

Thomas Watson, who was appointed deputy Labour leader, played down the risk of a coup against the new chief by party moderates, many of whom stepped down from key posts on Saturday when Corbyn was elected.

Among them was former oppposition Business Secretary Chuka Umunna, who highlighted Corbyn's lack of firm commitment to Britain remaining in the European Union. The new Labour leader has criticized Brussels over labor rights, among other issues. The party has since confirmed it will campaign to stay in the EU.

Senior party figures think Corbyn's left-wing stance is too radical to win the next election in 2020. They say that Labour's previous success, under Blair, was only possible because the party moved to the political centre ground.

Blair himself warned that if Corbyn became leader, it would be an "electoral disaster." Prime Minister David Cameron reacted to the left-wing activist's win on Saturday by describing him as a "threat to our national security, our economic security and your family's security."

But the party has seen a large increase in membership since Corbyn announced he was running for leader, with thousands more joining since his win on Saturday.

mm/rg (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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