Rebecca Long-Bailey has been appointed shadow secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy in place of Clive Lewis, who stepped down in opposition to Jeremy Corbyn's three-line whip in favour of the Article 50 bill.
The MP for Salford and Eccles was elected in May 2015 and quickly rose to prominence in Labour’s shadow Treasury team. She was named shadow chief secretary to the Treasury in June 2016 following a number of resignations under Jeremy Corbyn.
She used her time in this position to campaign against a number of issues within the Finance Bill 2016 related to the renewable sector. This included taking a lead in Labour’s response to government plans to increase VAT rates on energy-saving materials, including solar panels, calling it a “green energy tax hike”.
She used the debate on 6 September 2016 to call attention to the government’s “abysmal failure to provide any kind of certainty” to the renewables sector. She pointed to subsidy cuts, removal of tax relief for clean energy projects and the abolition of the Department of Energy and Climate Change as a proof that “the Conservative party’s husky-hugging days are long gone”.
While the government has yet to provide a solid confirmation that VAT rates on these products are to remain untouched, the measure was removed from the final Finance Bill.
The former solicitor has also campaigned against the removal of the exemption for renewable electricity from the Climate Change Levy (CCL) and called for a review of the impact of the CCL on carbon emissions.
Her experience scrutinising financial and economic policy related to renewables should hold Long-Bailey in good stead as shadow BEIS secretary and continues her role as a key Corbyn ally, having been one of 36 Labour MPs to nominate the him as a candidate in the 2015 leadership election.
She finds herself on Labour’s front bench following the fourth reshuffle under Corbyn since he became leader, with Lewis joining many other former shadow ministers on the backbenches.
Both Labour and the Conservative Party have had trouble pinning an MP to the energy brief for any prolonged period, with Lisa Nandy and Barry Gardiner also moving from the policy area in recent months.
Meanwhile, Lord Prior became the sixth energy minister in as many years following the departure of Baroness Neville-Rolfe in December.