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Corbyn's old rival Smith now Labour shadow for Northern Ireland

By David Hughes

Jeremy Corbyn's former leadership rival Owen Smith has returned to the shadow cabinet - as the Northern Ireland spokesperson.

The Labour leader brought back the man who tried to oust him in 2016 as he began putting together a "strengthened shadow cabinet" following the general election.

The Pontypridd MP will serve under Mr Corbyn as shadow Northern Ireland secretary.

Lesley Laird also makes it to the top team as shadow Scottish secretary, just days after being elected as MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath.

Dawn Butler will be shadow minister for diverse communities, while Ian Lavery becomes party chairman.

Mr Corbyn said: "I look forward to working with the strengthened shadow cabinet as we prepare a government in waiting to carry out our manifesto for the many, not the few.

"Our party is now on a permanent campaign footing in anticipation of the failure of Theresa May's attempt to establish a stable administration with the support of the DUP.

"I am therefore appointing Ian Lavery, co-national campaign coordinator, to the additional role of Labour Party Chair to strengthen our campaigning and party organisation, as we prepare to contest a new general election and form the next government."

Andrew Gwynne, credited with playing a major role in the general election campaign which saw Mr Corbyn's Labour gain 30 seats, has been appointed shadow communities and local government secretary.

He retains the co-national campaign coordinator role alongside Mr Lavery.

Meanwhile, Ian Blackford MP has been named as the SNP's new Westminster leader.

The member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber will succeed Angus Robertson, who lost his Moray seat in the snap general election last week.

"As Scotland's leading party at Westminster, and the third party across the UK, the SNP has a huge opportunity in this parliament to stand up for Scotland's interests," he said.

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