Labour is not moving to the right of the political spectrum but instead to the North of the country, a shadow frontbencher has said.
A reshuffle carried out by Opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer on Monday was seen to be the end of a move away from the Jeremy Corbyn era of Labour, which took the party to the left.
But Lisa Nandy, who moved from being shadow foreign secretary to shadow levelling-up secretary, said that was not the conversation happening within the party, as it was suggested that Labour only wins elections when it moves to the centre-right.
Ms Nandy told Sky News: “We’re moving North; left or right, you can keep that debate. We’re going out into the country and we’re going to start delivering for people in towns, villages and cities that have been completely and utterly abandoned by the political system.
“You go to Grimsby, you go to Barnsley, you go to Aberdeen, you will find proud communities that have a contribution to make.
“But so often they are held back, not by the skills of their young people, not by the abilities in those communities, not by their own ambition, but by a national Government that isn’t investing in the infrastructure that would bring good jobs.”
In the reshuffle, Yvette Cooper, a former cabinet minister and the current chairwoman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, became shadow home secretary and will take on Priti Patel over the migrant crisis.
Sir Keir also handed big promotions to two of Labour’s rising stars, Bridget Phillipson and Wes Streeting, who take on the roles of shadow education secretary and shadow health secretary.
Jonathan Ashworth, who has had the health brief throughout the pandemic, is moved to shadow work and pensions secretary.
In other moves, Ms Nandy will face off against Michael Gove as shadow secretary for levelling-up and communities. She will be replaced as shadow foreign secretary by David Lammy.
Former leader Ed Miliband becomes shadow climate change secretary, while Jonathan Reynolds takes on his former portfolio of business, energy and industrial strategy.
Sir Keir said: “With this reshuffle we are a smaller, more focused shadow cabinet that mirrors the shape of the Government we are shadowing.
“We must hold the Conservative Government to account on behalf of the public and demonstrate that we are the right choice to form the next government.”
Earlier, it appeared the reshuffle would be overshadowed as tensions resurfaced between Sir Keir and his deputy, Angela Rayner.
Ms Rayner appeared to be blindsided when news of the reshuffle broke, as she was delivering a keynote speech on Labour’s plans for reforming standards in public life.
But Ms Nandy said “the gaffer picks the team, that’s how it goes”.
She told Sky News: “I have not spoken to Angela since the reshuffle was announced.
“I have been too busy getting a team together and putting a plan together.”
However, she added that reshuffles are not new for her.
“I have been through a lot of reshuffles over the past 11 years,” she said.
“I think that the leader makes the decisions, the gaffer picks the team, that’s how it goes and that’s how it has always gone.
“Frankly, I couldn’t care less about the circus of who’s in and who’s out, who’s up, who’s down, who knew, who didn’t.”
Of her own new role, Ms Nandy said it feels “a little like coming home”.
Asked if her new job feels like a demotion, she told BBC Breakfast: “For the entire time I’ve been in Parliament, for the last 11 years, I’ve been fighting for politicians of all political parties to take seriously the fact that there are people across this country who have watched good jobs and investment leave our communities.
“That we have got a level of ambition that just isn’t matched by politicians of any political party, certainly not this one, for our futures, for our young people, for our towns and for our villages.
“Finally I can say that that is going to change and I am going to make it my mission to bring Labour home to people and to deliver on promises that the Government simply isn’t capable of doing.”
Elsewhere in the overhaul, Nick Thomas-Symonds, who was shadow home secretary, takes on international trade in what is ostensibly a demotion.
However, Sir Keir softened the blow by announcing that he has asked him to head a new shadow cabinet committee leading the party’s response on Brexit.
Lucy Powell becomes shadow culture secretary, Jim McMahon gets environment, Louise Haigh goes to transport and Steve Reed gets justice.
Veteran former minister Pat McFadden becomes shadow treasury chief secretary, while former leadership contender Emily Thornberry is shadow attorney general.
Peter Kyle enters the top team as shadow Northern Ireland secretary, while Jo Stevens becomes shadow Welsh secretary.
Those leaving include former shadow education secretary Kate Green, former shadow environment secretary Luke Pollard and Blair-era veteran Lord Falconer, who announced he was stepping down as shadow attorney general.
Earlier, Cat Smith, who was shadow minister for young people and one of the last acolytes of Mr Corbyn on the Labour front bench, announced she was quitting, citing the continued withholding of the Labour whip from the former leader.