Pat McFadden is the new shadow Europe minister. Photo: Getty
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Who went where in Labour’s mini-reshuffle?

Ed Miliband has reshuffled the lower tiers of his frontbench team.

There have been rumours for a couple of weeks that Ed Miliband was due to reshuffle team. During the party conference season, it was thought that he would be making this move the week following the Clacton by-election.

However, his frontbench team remained intact, perhaps as a sensible stabilising measure following Labour’s surprisingly narrow win in the Heywood and Middleton by-election and the ensuing mutterings of dissatisfaction from the PLP. Though a reshuffle was only ever rumoured, Tory sources were less kind about this apparent turnaround. One smiled: “he’s bottled it”.

But yesterday evening, Miliband did deliver a mini-reshuffle of the lower tiers of his shadow frontbench. This was triggered by Rushanara Ali, who resigned her position in the shadow education team over the Commons advocating military action in Iraq.

Who went where?

 

Pat McFadden

MP for Wolverhampton South East.

 

McFadden, who served as a business minister under Gordon Brown and was briefly shadow business secretary in Labour’s first five months in opposition in 2010, has been appointed shadow minister for Europe.

He worked as an adviser to Tony Blair both when he was in opposition and government, and became his political secretary in 2002. He was elected for Wolverhampton South East in 2005.

McFadden is respected as an intelligent, and occasionally critical, voice in the party. It has surprised some over the years that Miliband has so long declined to appoint him to the frontbench.

The shadow Europe brief has been a tough one for Labour MPs to hold, because at first there was the need to prevaricate over the EU referendum issue – and now there’s the Ukip factor tempting politicians from all sides of the House to think before they praise the European Union.

McFadden – who knows the policy area well – is a strong advocate of Britain’s EU membership, and condemns the "call for more isolation". He is in favour of measured change in Europe with long-term aims, rather than for electoral advantage. His appointment represents Labour’s preparation to fight the issue with levelheadedness.

He commented:

I’m delighted to be joining the front bench at this crucial time.

I want to make the hard-headed, patriotic case for both Britain in Europe and for change in Europe so that it works for working people.

Labour believes that Europe can and must be made to work better for Britain but we understand that the right road for Britain is change in Europe, not exit from Europe.

 

Gareth Thomas

MP for Harrow West

 

Thomas has moved from the shadow Europe brief to become shadow minister for the Middle East and North Africa in Miliband’s shadow foreign affairs team.

This isn’t his first foray into foreign affairs. In the last two years of the Labour government, he served as an international development minister.

 

Ian Lucas

MP for Wrexham

 

Lucas leaves his shadow foreign affairs brief to join Vernon Coaker’s shadow defence team covering international security strategy.

Before his appointment as a shadow foreign minister in 2011, Lucas mainly held business-based briefs. He served as a minister for business and regulatory reform in 2009-10.

 

 

Yvonne Fovargue

MP for Makerfield

 

Fovargue moves over from defence to education, replacing Ali as shadow minister for young people.

It’s worth noting that Miliband may feel compelled to have another reshuffle before the election, following his intention to build a shadow cabinet that is 50 per cent women.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
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In the race to be France's next president, keep an eye on Arnaud Montebourg

Today's Morning Call. 

Good morning. As far as the Brexit talks are concerned, the least important voters are here in Britain. Whether UK plc gets a decent Brexit deal depends a lot more on who occupies the big jobs across Europe, and how stable they feel in doing so.

The far-right Freedom Party in Austria may have been repudiated at the presidential level but they still retain an interest in the legislative elections (due to be held by 2018). Both Lega Nord and Five Star in Italy will hope to emerge as the governing party at the next Italian election.

Some Conservative MPs are hoping for a clean sweep for the Eurosceptic right, the better to bring the whole EU down, while others believe that the more vulnerable the EU is, the better a deal Britain will get. The reality is that a European Union fearing it is in an advanced state of decay will be less inclined, not more, to give Britain a good deal. The stronger the EU is, the better for Brexit Britain, because the less attractive the exit door looks, the less of an incentive to make an example of the UK among the EU27.

That’s one of the many forces at work in next year’s French presidential election, which yesterday saw the entry of Manuel Valls, the French Prime Minister, into the race to be the Socialist Party’s candidate.

Though his star has fallen somewhat among the general public from the days when his opposition to halal supermarkets as mayor of Evry, and his anti-Roma statements as interior minister made him one of the most popular politicians in France, a Valls candidacy, while unlikely to translate to a finish in the top two for the Socialists could peel votes away from Marine Le Pen, potentially allowing Emanuel Macron to sneak into second place.

But it’s an open question whether he will get that far. The name to remember is Arnaud Montebourg, the former minister who quit Francois Hollande’s government over its right turn in 2014. Although as  Anne-Sylvaine Chassany reports, analysts believe the Socialist party rank-and-file has moved right since Valls finished fifth out of sixth in the last primary, Montebourg’s appeal to the party’s left flank gives him a strong chance.

Does that mean it’s time to pop the champagne on the French right? Monteburg may be able to take some votes from the leftist independent, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and might do some indirect damage to the French Thatcherite Francois Fillon. His supporters will hope that his leftist economics will peel away supporters of Le Pen, too.

One thing is certain, however: while the chances of a final run-off between Le Pen and Fillon are still high,  Hollande’s resignation means that it is no longer certain that the centre and the left will not make it to that final round.

THE SOUND OF SILENCE

The government began its case at the Supreme Court yesterday, telling justices that the creation of the European Communities Act, which incorporates the European treaties into British law automatically, was designed not to create rights but to expedite the implementation of treaties, created through prerogative power. The government is arguing that Parliament, through silence, has accepted that all areas not defined as within its scope as prerogative powers. David Allen Green gives his verdict over at the FT.

MO’MENTUM, MO’PROBLEMS

The continuing acrimony in Momentum has once again burst out into the open after a fractious meeting to set the organisation’s rules and procedures, Jim Waterson reports over at BuzzFeed.  Jon Lansman, the organisation’s founder, still owns the data and has the ability to shut down the entire group, should he chose to do so, something he is being urged to do by allies. I explain the origins of the crisis here.

STOP ME IF YOU’VE HEARD THIS ONE  BEFORE

Italy’s oldest bank, Monte Paschi, may need a state bailout after its recapitalisation plan was thrown into doubt following Matteo Renzi’s resignation. Italy’s nervous bankers will wait to see if  €1bn of funds from a Qatari investment grouping will be forthcoming now that Renzi has left the scene.

BOOM BOOM

Strong growth in the services sector puts Britain on course to be the highest growing economy in the G7. But Mark Carney has warned that the “lost decade” of wage growth and the unease from the losers from globalisation must be tackled to head off the growing tide of “isolation and detachment”.

THE REPLACEMENTS

David Lidington will stand in for Theresa May, who is abroad, this week at Prime Ministers’ Questions. Emily Thornberry will stand in for Jeremy Corbyn.

QUIT PICKING ON ME!

Boris Johnson has asked Theresa May to get her speechwriters and other ministers to stop making jokes at his expense, Sam Coates reports in the Times. The gags are hurting Britain’s diplomatic standing, the Foreign Secretary argues.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT

It’s beginning to feel a bit like Christmas! And to help you on your way, here’s Anna’s top 10 recommendations for Christmassy soundtracks.

MUST READS

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Why I’m concerned about people’s “very real concerns” on migration

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Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.