Keir Starmer pledges to offer Lisa Nandy and Rebecca Long-Bailey 'top' Shadow Cabinet jobs if elected leader
Keir Starmer has pledged to give Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy rivals "top jobs" in his Shadow Cabinet if he defeats them in the race to become Labour leader.
Speaking as ballot papers are sent to party members, the leadership frontrunner also said he would "happily" serve in either of his opponents' respective frontbench teams.
His comments come after he previously snubbed the idea of offering roles during the race, saying it was wrong for candidates to be "jostling for positions".
That had provoked a backlash from Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey who said she was "quite sad" her opponent wouldn't commit to offering them jobs.
She said: "I know we don't agree all the time, and our visions are probably very different, but we meet on areas of common ground, and that's what would make us a strong Shadow Cabinet."
Asked again during one of the party's official hustings events, Sir Keir revised his position, saying: "I would happily offer both these candidates a top job in the Shadow Cabinet and I'd happily serve them if the wanted me to do the same."
Paying tribute to the "respectful" tone of the contest, he added: "Whichever one of us actually wins this, what you are seeing on display here is the leadership of the Labour party".
Meanwhile, Ms Long-Bailey made the same commitment, saying: "I would [appoint them]. I think they're both brilliant. And I would do whatever I was asked and whatever it takes to make sure, if I didn't become leader, to make sure we were elected as the next Labour government."
Wigan MP Lisa Nandy added: "I like both of these people, I respect them. I would want them in my Shadow Cabinet doing big jobs. But I would equally be happy to serve alongside them in whatever role they chose to give me."
Their comments came on the eve of voting opening for Labour members and registered supporters, with ballots due to be sent out by post and email this week.
Members will also be given the opportunity to vote for a new deputy leader, with either Angela Rayner, Dawn Butler, Richard Burgon, Ian Murray or Dr Rosena Allin-Khan set to take up the number two spot.
The winners of both posts will be announced by the party on 4 April at a special conference.