2019 intake MP for Pontypridd Alex Davies-Jones is set to become a shadow minister in UK Labour’s Northern Ireland team as Karin Smyth is stepping down from the role, LabourList can reveal.
It is understood that Keir Starmer has spoken to Smyth about her decision to stand down from the opposition frontbench, respects her decision and looks forward to working with her in the coming years.
The Bristol South MP says she would like to spend more of her time on constituency matters and the government announcement of a new NHS reorganisation, after serving on Labour’s frontbench since 2015.
Before being elected to parliament in 2015, Smyth worked as an NHS manager at Bristol clinical commissioning group and served as a non-executive director of the local primary care trust.
From 2016 to 2017, Smyth was a parliamentary private secretary to Starmer when he was Shadow Brexit Secretary. She was then shadow deputy leader of the Commons before joining the Northern Ireland team.
Davies-Jones has been serving as PPS to Jim McMahon, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, and Nia Griffith, Shadow Wales Secretary. She wrote for LabourList in April 2020 about her first 100 days as a Labour MP.
Below is the full text of Karin Smyth’s letter to her local party explaining the decision to step down.
After five years serving on Labour’s front bench at Westminster, I have today told Keir of my wish to step down as Shadow Northern Ireland Minister.
Having first been appointed to the frontbench in September 2015 – just five months after I was elected to the House of Commons – I have spent nearly all my time as an MP serving as a shadow minister or PPS in some capacity. I have decided that now is the right time to step aside and focus both on the interests of my constituency and those topics that are closest to my heart.
Having worked in the NHS at the time of the last Tory reorganisation, I will be watching closely the latest announcements from Number 10 on the future of a service still reeling from their last efforts. I will continue my work on the underreported issues around assisted dying, and push harder still for a further education policy that actually delivers for people in the communities I am proud to represent.
It is customary at such times to remark upon how much one has enjoyed their time in their Shadow teams, and to pay fulsome tribute to the party leader. Both things are made much easier in this instance by virtue of them being true.
I have been particularly honoured to serve as a shadow minister in the Northern Ireland team, first with Tony Lloyd and then Lou Haigh, both good friends. This allowed me to combine two of my great passions – Labour politics and the island of Ireland. My strong personal interest in this area means that my work on this topic will continue, albeit from the backbenches.
Prior to this, I had the privilege of working as Keir’s PPS, at his side in what was at the time the most tumultuous period in recent political times. The qualities that were so evident to me at the time are the same ones that propelled him to the leadership – and will, I am certain, make him our next Prime Minister. And I will, for my part, do everything in my power to make that happen.
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