Labour's Owen Smith appointed as shadow Northern Ireland secretary

Owen Smith, the former leadership contender, has been tipped for a return, having showered praise on Corbyn at the weekend and said: "I take my hat off to him".

Smith, who challenged Corbyn for the Labour leadership past year, was one of four new appointees.

Many have warned such a deal could leave Northern Ireland's peace process and its devolution settlement in jeopardy. Otherwise, he has stuck with the group of MPs who were loyal to him following last summer's attempted coup, when nearly the entire shadow cabinet resigned in an attempt to force Corbyn to quit. He's been famously sceptical about Corbyn - he did challenge him for the leadership, after all - but last week he did admit he had been "clearly wrong" about the leader's abilities.

Announcing the changes to his Shadow Cabinet after last week's general election, Mr Corbyn said: "I am delighted to announce four appointments to fill shadow cabinet vacancies".

"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".

'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.

The Pontypridd MP was a special adviser to Northern Ireland secretary Paul Murphy during Tony Blair's government, meaning he already has some knowledge of the job.

Corbyn also named Ian Lavery, Gwynne's co-campaign manager, the new Labour Party chairman, stripping deputy leader Tom Watson of the role.

While Lesley Laird, who was elected for the first time last week, was made Shadow Scotland Secretary.

His fellow campaign chief, Andrew Gwynne, is made shadow communities secetary.

Vanessa Coleman

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