Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has continued his drive for a diverse shadow cabinet by appointing Valerie Vaz as shadow leader of the House.
The 61-year-old is the third female member of a black and minority ethnic community (BAME) background to be selected to the Labour cabinet since Corbyn started his reshuffle last week. Former Liberty director Baroness Shami Chakrabarti has been appointed as shadow attorney general and Dawn Butler is shadow diverse communities minister.
Vaz, the sister of Britain’s longest-serving British-Asian MP Keith Vaz, has been MP for Walsall South since 2010. She is also vice-chairwoman of the Labour Parliamentary Party, having been elected by fellow Labour MPs.
Although Vaz had given her backing to Andy Burnham in last year’s Labour leadership elections, she has since offered her full support to her party leader Corbyn after he beat Burnham.
Corbyn, who was re-elected as Labour leader last month after a landslide victory, has pushed for gender equality within his cabinet. His team is now made up of 16 women and 14 men.
“Once again the shadow cabinet has a majority of women, and has more black and minority ethnic appointees than any shadow cabinet or cabinet ever,” said Corbyn.
“I have acted to bring together a strong and diverse opposition leadership team. Our aim is to deliver what millions of people are demanding: a Labour party focused on holding this divisive government to account and winning the next general election.”