Two quit as Ed Miliband shuffles his Shadow Cabinet

 

Ed Miliband will hand out fast-track promotions today to some of the new MPs elected to the Commons last year as he tries to improve the performance of his Shadow Cabinet.

New MPs who could earn a promotion after only 18 months in the Commons include Rachel Reeves, a spokeswoman on pensions, and Tristram Hunt, a TV historian and backbencher.

It is Mr Miliband's first reshuffle since becoming Labour leader a year ago and the first since a rule change approved at last week's party conference allows him freedom to pick whoever he wants for the Shadow Cabinet, instead of it being elected by Labour MPs.

Among the senior members to go are the shadow Business Secretary, John Denham, and shadow Health Secretary, John Healey, whose resignations were announced last night ahead of the reshuffle. Mr Denham agreed to serve unpaid as Mr Miliband's parliamentary private secretary.

Junior frontbenchers tipped for promotion include Emily Thornberry, a health spokeswoman, and Stephen Twigg, a foreign affairs spokesman. Mr Twigg, a former Schools minister, famously claimed the scalp of Michael Portillo in Enfield Southgate at the 1997 election, lost the seat eight years later, and returned as MP for Liverpool West Derby last year.

Other new MPs who could feature in today's shake-up include Gloria De Piero, a former GMTV presenter; Michael Dugher, a former spin doctor to Gordon Brown; Emma Reynolds; Stella Creasy; Luciana Berger; and Liz Kendall.

Andy Burnham, the shadow Education Secretary, who served as Health Secretary in the previous Labour government, is a contender to take over the important health brief.

Labour strategists hope the promotion of several women will boost the party's campaign to appeal to women voters. Insiders say the main aim of today's reshuffle is to bring on the party's "young Turks". However, some Labour MPs believe the Opposition has not landed as many blows on the Coalition as it should have done because of the Shadow Cabinet's performance.

Mr Healey, a former Housing minister, wrote to Mr Miliband last Friday saying he wanted to step down to spend more time with his family before his teenage son left home. "It is time to put them first," he wrote.

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