Labour shadow cabinet reshuffle: What it means for small businesses

Labour shadow cabinet reshuffle: What it means for small businesses
Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events

Posted: Tue 5th Sep 2023

The Labour Party's former shadow business and industrial strategy secretary Jonathan Reynolds has taken on the new business and trade role in Keir Starmer’s shadow cabinet.

The change reflects the government’s merging earlier this year of the business elements of the old Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the former Department for International Trade to create the new Department for Business and Trade.

Reynolds' new role came as Labour leader Kier Starmer reshuffled his top team on MPs' first day back in Parliament after the summer recess.

Posting on X, the platform previously called Twitter, Reynolds said:

“There is no route to higher growth, wages and prosperity without greater business investment.

“That requires a clear industrial strategy, ambition on net zero, reforms to planning and skills, a better trade and cooperation agreement with the EU but also new opportunities around the world

“That is exactly what Labour’s pro-worker, pro-business agenda is offering.

“I am so pleased with the backing we’ve had from businesses and unions so far, and I will now take that further and faster with these additional responsibilities.”

Labour has made several business-related pledges should the party win the next general election. Under parliamentary law, it has to take place by January 2025.

Among the promises are scrapping business rates in England, launching a review of the tax system, tackling late payment, giving councils powers to take over empty shops and offer them to small businesses at a discounted rent and providing £700m in vouchers for small businesses to install energy saving measures.

Other appointments of relevance to small businesses are:

Darren Jones: Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury

He was previously chair of the Business and Trade Committee and has championed start-ups in Parliament.

Jones will now work with shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves on the key issues related to the economy.

Peter Kyle: Shadow secretary of state for science, innovation and technology

This is a new role to reflect the government’s new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology which includes the digital elements of the former Department for Media, Culture and Sport.

Kyle has previously run his own business. Posting on Facebook in 2014, the MP for Hove and Portslade said:

"We're an entrepreneurial city - did you know that over 90% of people who don't work for a statutory agency in Brighton and Hove work for a small business? That's an amazing figure as the national average is 52% for small AND medium businesses.

"I care a lot about this because I too set up a small business here in 2004. My best mate and I set up a video production company in my lounge which now, a decade later, has two floors of a building in town and produces world-class videos for world class organisations. I'm living proof that anyone can become an entrepreneur - if I can do it anyone can!"

Thangam Debbonaire: Shadow secretary of state for culture, media and sport

The former shadow leader of the House of Commons and shadow housing secretary has a background relevant to her new culture job having trained and performed professionally as a classical cellist.

Angela Rayner: Shadow deputy prime minister and shadow secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities

Rayner takes over the levelling up brief from Lisa Nandy, who was demoted to shadow international development secretary.

Starmer said Rayner's new role was about giving her a position that is "crucial to the rebuilding of our country".

Ed Miliband remains as shadow secretary of state for energy security and net zero

On energy, Labour has promised to create Great British Energy, a new, publicly-owned clean energy company, which it says will "cut bills for good" and "deliver one hundred percent clean power by 2030".

On reaching net zero, Starmer said:

“We're going to throw everything at this: planning reform, procurement, long-term finance, R&D, a strategic plan for skills and supply chains. Pulling together for a simple, unifying priority: British power for British jobs."

Junior minister reshuffle

Keir Starmer is also reshuffling his junior ministers.

Rushanara Ali: Shadow investment and small business minister

Rushanara Alli takes over the small business role from Seema Malhorta, who has been appointed shadow minister for skills.

Alli, the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, has relevant business experience having helped develop Language Line, a telephone interpreting service for people with language difficulties in cases of emergency.

Former prime minister David Cameron appointed her his trade envoy to Bangladesh. Alli was the first British Bangladeshi elected to Parliament.

Gareth Thomas: Shadow minister for trade

The MP for Harrow West continues as shadow minister for trade, a role he has held since April 2020. He was elected to Parliament in 1997.

Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events
I'm a freelance journalist and event host who helps small businesses and the organisations that support them. I'm also Enterprise Nation's news reporter and Bristol Local Leader. I have 20 years of experience as a small business journalist having interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs from famous names like Sir Richard Branson and Deborah Meaden to the founders behind brand new start-ups. I've worked for a range of leading small business publications and support groups, most recently as head of content at Enterprise Nation where I was responsible for the prolific output of content on the company's blog and social media. I now freelance for Enterprise Nation as the website's news reporter and as the host of the Small Business sessions podcast. I'm based in Bristol where I run and host regular events with the local small business community in my role as Enterprise Nation's Local Leader for Bristol. I also have strong connections with other major business organisations in the south west region. In total, I've hosted over 100 events including conferences with an audience of hundreds for international brands like Xero and Facebook and live web chats from inside 10 Downing Street. With my partner, I co-run Lifestyle District, a lifestyle blog focused on culture, art, theatre and photography.

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