Britain's Labour leader names top team

8th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Ed Miliband, the new leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party, unveiled his shadow cabinet team on Friday, handing ex-home secretary Alan Johnson the key finance brief in a surprise move.

Rising star Yvette Cooper becomes shadow foreign secretary while her husband Ed Balls was handed the job of shadow home secretary, Labour said.

The shadow cabinet -- the senior opposition spokespersons -- scrutinise the government, with the members of Miliband's top team shadowing the briefs of government secretaries of state.

Miliband was last month elected leader of Labour -- which lost power in May after 13 years -- promising to represent a "new generation" in British politics.

But most of those in his shadow cabinet are familiar names from the party's years in government under prime ministers Gordon Brown and Tony Blair.

"I am delighted with my new shadow cabinet, drawn from a broad range of talents across our party," Miliband said Friday.

"My team is united in one central mission for the future -- to win back the trust of the British people and take Labour back to power.

"This new generation of Labour will work together to reject the pessimism of this coalition government as we set out our vision of what Britain can achieve."

The key job of finance spokesman goes to Johnson, a charismatic former postman and trade union boss who admits he would rather have been a pop star than a politician.

The 60-year-old takes over two weeks before finance minister George Osborne unveils public spending cuts which will hit 25 percent in many government departments.

Cooper and Balls, who in 2008 became the first married couple to serve in the cabinet, had been favourites to take the finance brief.

The announcement of the jobs came after Labour lawmakers voted for 19 of their peers who would make up the shadow cabinet, with Cooper topping the poll.

But it was down to Miliband -- who defeated his elder brother David to become Labour leader on September 25 -- to choose which briefs they would fill.

© 2010 AFP

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