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Starmer installs non-political ministers in ‘government of all the talents’

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Keir Starmer has reinvigorated his ministerial team by appointing a blend of former New Labour figures and external experts, continuing his strategy of building a “government of all the talents.”

On Saturday night, Starmer brought back senior ministers from the New Labour era, including Douglas Alexander, who returned as an MP and was appointed as a trade minister, and Jacqui Smith, the former home secretary under Gordon Brown, who was made an education minister and given a peerage. Former health secretary Alan Milburn is also expected to be appointed to push through NHS reforms.

In addition to experienced political figures, Starmer has recruited notable experts from outside Westminster. Patrick Vallance, the former chief scientific adviser, was appointed as science minister, while businessman and rehabilitation advocate James Timpson (pictured) was named prisons minister. Richard Hermer, an international law expert, was appointed as attorney general, a decision welcomed by senior legal figures.

Hermer’s expertise is anticipated to be crucial in providing advice on the Gaza conflict. He recently co-authored a letter with other prominent Jewish lawyers, emphasizing that international law should guide Israel’s response to Hamas’s attacks, highlighting the need to avoid collective punishment and ensure minimal destruction to civilian life and infrastructure.

Hermer’s appointment has led to the sidelining of Emily Thornberry, who previously held the role of attorney general in opposition. Starmer’s decision to bring in external talent echoes Gordon Brown’s approach when he appointed figures like former admiral Lord West and ex-UN deputy secretary general Mark Malloch Brown to his government.

Additional appointments include Ellie Reeves as Cabinet Office minister, replacing Anneliese Dodds as party chair, Dan Jarvis as Home Office minister, and Jim McMahon and Matthew Pennycook as ministers in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. Douglas Alexander was also appointed as a business minister.

Starmer’s allies believe that these appointments reflect a commitment to leading in a non-ideological way, aiming to demonstrate competence and breadth in his administration.

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