Jeremy Corbyn reshuffle: Tom Watson named as Labour's civil service spokesman

Opposition's deputy leader named as new shadow minister for the Cabinet Office

By matt.foster

14 Sep 2015

Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson has been tasked with holding the government to account on civil service issues, as the party's new leader Jeremy Corbyn finalised his shadow cabinet.

Watson – who was named as the party's second-in-command on Saturday – takes over the job of shadow minister for the Cabinet Office from Lucy Powell, with Powell moving to become shadow education secretary.

The MP for West Bromwich East since 2001, Watson will split the Cabinet Office job with his role as Labour deputy and party chair, and is expected to face off against Cabinet Office minister Matt Hancock at departmental questions in the House of Commons.

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DuringGordon Brown's time as prime minister, Watson served in the short-lived post of minister for digital engagement, a Cabinet Office role which also saw him take the lead on civil service matters.

He has also served on the culture, media and sport select committee, and has been a high-profile campaigner for media reform and the investigation of historical child abuse allegations.

Confirmation of Watson's appointment came after Corbyn – Labour's new leader after winning a stunning victory at the weekend – announced that his campaign manager John McDonnell would serve as shadow chancellor, with fellow party leadership contender Andy Burnham taking on the role of shadow home secretary.

Corbyn has described his new team as "unifying, dynamic, [and] inclusive", in spite of a number of senior Labour figures choosing not to serve under his leadership.

"The shadow Cabinet is a strong combination of change and continuity that will now come together to hold this government to account, starting today with this pernicious Trade Union Bill," he said.

You can find a full list of the new Labour party frontbench team on our sister site

Read the Institute for Government's Peter Riddell on why a fragmented Labour party could spell trouble for Whitehall​

Read the most recent articles written by matt.foster - Top civil servants Robert Devereux & Chris Wormald stick up for spads


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