Chuka Umunna gets the main gig as TIGgers take up their posts

Written by David Singleton on 1 March 2019 in Diary

'We are not a political party and therefore do not have a leader,' said the new de facto TIG leader.

Back in 2010, he was touted by some as the “British Obama”. In 2015, he set his sights on being Labour leader but then withdrew from leadership contest after only a few days.

Last week, Chuka Umunna hinted at his latest ambition to lead The Independent Group of breakaway MPs, telling Sky's Sophie Ridge that he hoped "to play the biggest role".

And now he has finally got somewhere – having been made the de facto leader of the new group. Or “group spokesperson” to give the Streatham MP his official title.

The new gig was revealed as the group finally announced each of its MPs' policy areas. “We are not a political party and therefore do not have a leader,” said Umunna. “But the roles and responsibilities we have assigned recognise that all the members of our group have the right to be heard and a responsibility to provide leadership. Our structure is designed to be flexible to accommodate any changes as the group evolves and grows.”

The positions were announced in alphabetical order. But in a clear sign that Umunna is the de facto leader, he was the only member quoted in the press release.

Among the other briefs handed out to MPs, the pugnacious Tory Remainer-in-chief Anna Soubry has been tasked with shadowing both Brexit and former shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Chris Leslie got the Treasury gig as many expected.

More surprisingly, former doctor and health select committee chair Sarah Wollaston has not taken the health brief, with Luciana Berger landing that one. In a clear sign that the group are hoping to expand their presence in Parliament, Wollaston has instead been handed the task of looking after “new colleagues”.

Or maybe she just wanted a break...


Who’s doing what in The Independent Group?

Heidi Allen – Welfare and pensions, social care, and business
Luciana Berger – Home affairs, health, and digital and culture
Ann Coffey – Children and education
Mike Gapes – Foreign affairs and defence
Chris Leslie – Treasury and trade
Joan Ryan – Group business manager, and international development
Gavin Shuker – Group convenor
Angela Smith – Transport, local government and housing, and energy, environment and rural affairs
Anna Soubry – Brexit and justice (and assisting on defence)
Chuka Umunna – Group spokesperson, Cabinet Office, and government policy coordination
Sarah Wollaston – New colleagues


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