Diane Abbott has been promoted to shadow home secretary in Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s front bench reshuffle.
Ex-Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti is shadow attorney general and Keir Starmer, who left the team in June amid a wave of resignations, returns as shadow Brexit secretary.
But Dame Rosie Winterton, who had tried to negotiate between Mr Corbyn and many of his MPs, is out as chief whip.
Mr Corbyn’s critics have suggested the reshuffle will fail to unify the party.
One senior figure said the reshuffle so far looked “vengeful and cackhanded”, andMiddlesbrough South MP Tom Blenkinsop accused Mr Corbyn of “seeking submission not unity”.
Another MP, Neil Coyle, told BBC Radio 5 live that Dame Rosie’s work during a difficult period for Labour had been “underestimated”.
He said that, despite everything, “the parliamentary votes have been fairly coherent and that’s a direct result of someone who is a unifying figure – and that’s Rosie as chief whip.”
It is understood that some Labour MPs who were thinking about returning to the front bench are now reconsidering.
‘Opportunities to unite’
But Mr Corbyn’s team denied the reshuffle was divisive, saying other MPs who resigned will be returning to shadow cabinet roles later.
A Labour spokesman said: “Jeremy has today spoken to a number of colleagues in the Parliamentary Labour Party and will continue to do so throughout the day. He has begun the process of appointing a new frontbench team.”
Jo Stevens, who has been brought in as the new shadow Welsh secretary, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that she thought Mr Corbyn had reached out to unify the party.
“I was one of the senior people in Owen Smith’s leadership campaign and he’s offered me a place on the shadow cabinet,” she said.
“The Labour Party is a collective and we’re there to hold the government to account,” she added. “That’s why I stayed in my post in the summer and accepted the job yesterday.”
Ms Stevens said there would be opportunities on “plenty of issues” to unite the party against the Tories.
Mr Corbyn had promised to unite his party following his re-election as leader last month.
Some posts have been vacant since the resignations in the aftermath of June’s EU referendum in protest at his leadership.
Former Director of Public Prosecutions Mr Starmer stood down from his shadow Home Office minister post in June. He will now join shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner, new shadow economic secretary Jonathan Reynolds and shadow chancellor John McDonnell on Labour’s “shadow Brexit team”.
As well as moving Ms Abbott from shadow health secretary and Ms Stevens, Sarah Champion has been made shadow women and equalities minister.
Announcing the changes to his top team, Mr Corbyn leader said in a statement: “I am delighted to confirm the appointments of four extremely talented women to our shadow cabinet.
“These appointments mean, for the first time ever, two out of the three traditional ‘great offices of state’ will be shadowed by women.”
He added that his front bench would include 10 Labour MPs from the north of England and five black or ethnic minority MPs.
Ms Abbott said of her new role: “I am honoured to serve. My first job when I left university was as a graduate trainee in the Home Office, so my career has come full circle.”
The position was vacated by Andy Burnham who quit to run in the Greater Manchester mayoral election.
Source: BBC NEWS