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After a landslide Labour victory in the UK general elections, the new administration will have the first man of colour leading the foreign department and the first woman at the helm of Britain’s finances. Meet Keir Starmer’s new lieutenants.

David Lammy, Foreign Secretary

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A Member of Parliament (MP) for Tottenham since 2000, the 51-year-old Labour politician is poised to be Britain’s new Foreign Secretary and the first man of colour handling UK international relations at a time of unprecedented global tensions.

Graduating from Harvard Law School in 1997, Lammy occupied ministerial positions under Tony Blair’s government between 2002 and 2005 covering health, culture, media and sport. In 2003, he endorsed Britain’s invasion of Iraq following the policy of the New Labour. In 2007, under Gordon Brown’s administration, Lammy covered innovation, universities and skills as an under-Secretary of state.

Since the 2010 general election when Labour lost power, Lammy attempted to become Mayor of London and backed left-wing firebrand Jeremy Corbyn as a candidate in the Labour leadership election in 2015. After incoming PM Keir Starmer was elected Labour leader in April 2020, Lammy was appointed to the shadow cabinet as shadow secretary of state for justice and was promoted the following year to shadow secretary of state for foreign, commonwealth and development affairs.

Lammy described the past 14 years under Conservative rule as “chaotic” and said today’s world order has been defined by a new “dangerous and divided” form of geopolitical competition, a scenario the new Labour government vows to change driven by “hard-headed realism”.

The Labour politician has voiced desire to incorporate climate action and human rights within the diplomatic mainstream and pledges continued support to Ukraine. The new Foreign Secretary will seek a new geopolitical partnership with the EU, outside the single market and the customs union. Such a proposal, Lammy said, will be designed to increase economic, climate and national security. Under the new Labour administration, defence spending is set to increase to 2.5% of the country’s GDP, “as soon as resources allow”.

Lammy is married to the British painter Nicole Green with three children.

Rachel Reeves, Chancellor of the Exchequer

The first woman to take on the role of Chancellor of the Exchequer, the government’s chief finance minister, Rachel Reeves has been an MP for the northern industrial city of Leeds since 2010.

She chaired business, energy and industry committees of the UK’s lower parliamentary chamber the House of Commons between 2017 and 2020 and was moved into the role of shadow chancellor of the exchequer in 2021.

Taking over from Conservative Jeremy Hunt, Reeves, 45, spent six years working for the Bank of England between 2000 and 2006. This included a stint with the British Embassy in Washington DC on secondment from the UK central bank.

A former junior chess champion, Reeves joined Labour as a teenager and studied philosophy, politics and economics at New College, Oxford, followed by a MSC in economics from the London School of Economics.

She is married to Nicholas Joicey, a civil servant who worked as a private secretary and speech writer to former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The couple have homes in Leeds and London and two children. Reeves’ sister, Ellie Reeves, is also a Labour MP who was elected in the new seat of Lewisham West and East Dulwich.

Yvette Cooper, Home Secretary

Born in Scotland, Yvette Cooper, 55, was first elected to Parliament during the 1997 general election with Tony Blair’s government. She became minister of state for housing and planning in 2005, keeping the role when Gordon Brown became PM in 2007. She was the first British government minister in history to take maternity leave during her tenure as a public health minister in 2001.

Cooper will take over James Cleverly as Home Secretary, one of the ‘big three’ cabinet roles, handling national security, a highly politicised topic following the Rwanda deportation debate and immigration in the UK.

She read philosophy, politics, and economics at Oxford University, before winning a scholarship to Harvard University, and completed her postgraduate studies with a Masters in Economics at the London School of Economics.

In 1992, Cooper worked in the US for former President Bill Clinton, then nominee of the Democratic Party. After the US stint, she became a policy advisor to then shadow chief secretary to the treasury, Harriet Harman. The Labour politician worked as an economics correspondent for The Independent newspaper in 1995 until joining the House of Commons, the UK Parliament, in 1997.

Cooper is married to British broadcaster and former politician Edward Balls with three children.

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