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Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer has appointed his deputy, Angela Rayner, as shadow upgrade secretary, in a shakeup that boosts several right-wing MPs from Britain’s main opposition party as it gears up for next year’s general election.

Labor said on Monday that Starmer was “delighted” that Rainer had accepted the role, which would see her take on housing and community responsibilities while maintaining strategic leadership in the party’s new deal for working people.

Rayner’s other title was also changed from shadow first secretary of state to shadow deputy prime minister, Starmer’s first reshuffle since November 2021.

Ahead of a general election in January 2025, Labor polls lead the ruling Conservative Party led by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak by about 18 percentage points.

Starmer hopes to become the first Labor leader to win a general election since Sir Tony Blair in 2005.

The shake-up has also resulted in the promotion of several senior “Blairite” figures, with Liz Kendall being appointed to Starmer’s top team for the first time as Shadow Work and Pensions Minister.

Pat McFadden succeeds Rainer as Shadow Cabinet Office secretary with responsibility for government agencies. He will also become the new “national campaign coordinator” ahead of the election.

Meanwhile, former Northern Ireland shadow minister Peter Keir has been promoted to shadow secretary of state for science, innovation and technology.

Another modernist, Darren Jones, became shadow minister for the first time as Shadow Treasurer. Jones previously chaired the House of Commons business select committee.

The promotions are the latest example of Starmer taking over from “far left” former leader Jeremy Corbyn in 2020 as he seeks to push Labor towards the more centrist line pursued by Blair.

Elsewhere, Starmer’s main loyalist Shabana Mahmood was named shadow justice secretary, replacing Steve Reid, who became shadow environment secretary.

A Labor official said the promotion was in recognition of Mahmoud’s role as a former campaign coordinator in “helping transform the Labor Party and its campaign machine”.

Meanwhile, Starmer’s reshuffle has demoted several figures on the party’s soft left.

Lisa Nandy, who is running for leadership in 2020, has been replaced by Rayner as shadow secretary and Preet Gill as shadow international development secretary.

Shadow environment secretary Jim McMahon resigned earlier, saying he wanted to focus on his family and health after recovering from a serious illness.

In a letter to Starmer, McMahon said he remained behind the Labor leader, although he added: “In the run-up to the next general election, it is vital that Labor develop a vision of hope, security and decency for working people. .the standard of living.”

Elsewhere, work and pensions spokesman Jonathan Ashworth has been demoted to shadow treasurer.

Former shadow trade minister Nick Thomas-Symonds has been demoted to shadow minister with no role in the Cabinet Office.

Thangam Debbonaire promoted from Commons shadow leader to shadow secretary of state for culture, media and sport – effectively swapping jobs with Lucy Powell Powell moves from cultural circles to shadow leader of the House of Commons.

Meanwhile, Hilary Ben has moved into the shadow cabinet as Shadow Secretary for Northern Ireland.

The title of this story has been updated to correct Angela Renner’s role

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