Friday Apr 10 2020
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New Labour leader adds six British Pakistanis in shadow cabinet

Photo by auhtor

LONDON: The newly elected leader of Labour Party Sir Keir Starmer has added six British Pakistani parliamentarians to the new shadow cabinet.

Starmer, a former human rights lawyer and director of public prosecutions, has been picked as the new Labour leader by an overwhelming margin, heralding a fresh chapter in the party’s history after five years under Jeremy Corbyn.

The British Pakistani Members of Parliament (MPs) who have been given responsibilities in the shadow cabinet are Khalid Mahmood, Dr Rosens Allin Khan, Yasmeen Qureshi, Afzal Khan, Naz Shah, and Imran Hussain.

All these MPs were part of the previous shadow cabinet too under leadership Corbyn but in different roles. Interestingly, none of them nominated Starmer for leadership. Mahmood, Qureshi, Khan, and Shah supported Emily Thornberry for leadership while Hussain vouched for Rebecca Long-Bailey to succeed Corbyn, the outgoing party leader.

Mahmood has been appointed as the new Shadow Minister for Defence Procurement. Khalid, who is currently the most senior member of Parliament of Muslim faith and Pakistani origin. He was first elected MP in 2001 from Birmingham-Perry Barr, a constituency he has successfully held since then.

Mahmood was appointed Shadow Minister for Europe in 2016 by Corbyn, then Labour Leader.

Upon his appointment as the new shadow minister for defence in a message on Twitter Mahmood thanked Starmer. “I look forward to the challenge and planned work ahead. Proud to have this fantastic opportunity”, said Khalid Mahmood.

Khan, a member of Parliament from Manchester-Gorton has also returned to the shadow cabinet but in a different role. He was first elected MP in 2017 elections served as Shadow Minister for Immigration in the last shadow cabinet.

Khan, who holds a unique record of severing as Councillor, Lord Mayor, member of the European Parliament and member of the British Parliament, has been appointed now to serve as “Shadow Deputy Leader of House of Commons”.

In a message on Twitter, expressing his delight to become a shadow minister and part of Starmer’s new team, Afzal said: “I look forward to working with Valerie Vaz (Shadow Leader of the House) at this crucial time as we consider how Parliament can adjust its working practices in light of coronavirus”.

Responding to a question about his new role and responsibilities from The News Afzal Khan said,

“In essence the role is to deal with all the business in the Parliament. It is a good place to understand everything that government is doing and opportunity to do good networking with government ministers and shadow ministers”, he further added.

Shah, the MP for Bradford West since 2015 who has served as Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities in the last shadow cabinet, has been appointed as Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion by Starmer.

She termed it a huge honour for herself to join the front bench where she will be part of Shadow Secretary for communities and local government Steve Reed’s team. 

Hussain has been appointed as Shadow Minister for Employment Rights & Protection.

In a massage on Imran Hussain thanked Starmer and said: “Employment rights are the very heart of the labour movement, and I'm looking forward to working with Andy McDonald (Shadow Secretary), our trade unions and others to deliver protections fit for the 21st century”.

Bolton South-East MP has been appointed as “Shadow Minister for International Development” and will be part of Labour’s Shadow DFID team.

“Honoured and excited to be joining the Labour DfID team. I'm looking forward to getting started with Stephen Doughty, Anna McMorrin and Shadow Secretary Preet Gill at a time when International Development has never been more important,” said Yasmin in a message on Twitter.

Dr Khan was the first MP of Pakistani origin to be included in the shadow cabinet when she was appointed Shadow Minister for Mental Health in the first wave of appointments by Starmer.

She was first elected from Tooting in 2016 when the seat became vacant after local MP Sadiq Khan became Mayor of London.

In a message on Twitter Dr Allin Khan said: “Delighted to be called by Keir Starmer earlier and to have been asked to join the Shadow Cabinet as the Shadow Minister for Mental Health, working with the fabulous Jonathan Ashworth (Shadow Health Secretary). I’ll be back on the NHS frontline in coming days!.”

After appointing his new frontbench team, Sir Keir Starmer hoped that the new team will take the party to a new era.

“Under my leadership, the Labour Party will be utterly focused on working in the national interest, rebuilding people’s trust in our party and winning the next election,” said Keir Starmer.