Angela Eagle was awarded key Labour role ‘over lack of diversity’

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Reports claim that out MP Angela Eagle was handed a key role in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet in response to criticism about the lack of diversity in his top team.

Left-winger Jeremy Corbyn, who was formally elected to succeed Ed Miliband as Labour Party leader on Saturday, appointed a mostly-new cabinet yesterday following an exodus of senior shadow ministers, including Yvette Cooper, Chuka Umunna, Liz Kendall and Tristram Hunt.

Angela Eagle was handed a role as Shadow Business Secretary, as well as the title of Shadow First Secretary of State, surpassing Chris Bryant to become the most powerful out politician.

However, leaks suggest that Ms Eagle was not originally in line for the role of Shadow First Secretary of State – which will see her occasionally deputise for Mr Corbyn during Prime Minister’s Questions.

According to journalists from the BBC, the Guardian and Sky News – who appear to have been able to eavesdrop on most of the reshuffle – Mr Corbyn’s team handed her the role after seeing criticism on social media for the lack of women in the top briefs.

A majority of Labour’s new cabinet are women for the first time ever, with 16 women and 15 men – but Mr Corbyn came under fire on Twitter on Sunday evening, when it became clear the traditional ‘Great Offices of State’ – PM, Chancellor, Foreign Secretary, and Home Secretary – had all been handed to men.

An aide referenced the criticism during the meeting, saying: “We are taking a fair amount of s**t out there about women.

“We need to do a Mandelson. Let’s make Angela shadow first minister of state. Like Mandelson was. She can cover PMQs.

“Tom [Watson, the party’s new deputy] knows about this. Do the Angela bit now.”

After hours of criticism, Ms Eagle’s appointment was announced by Labour’s official Twitter account at 12:21 AM on Monday morning – confirmed alongside the appointment of Diane Abbott as Minister for International Development.