Who’s who in Prime Minister Keir Starmer’s inner circle | Politics News

Sir Keir Starmer has entered 10 Downing Street as the first Labour leader to become prime minister following an election since Sir Tony Blair in 1997.

While it is Sir Keir who has the top job, credit for his rise to power has also been given to the tight-knit team that surround him.

Here, Sky News takes a look at the figures in the prime minister’s inner circle who are likely to play a crucial role in the running of Downing Street.

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Morgan McSweeney

Morgan McSweeney is campaign director at the Labour Party. Pic: Shutterstock

Morgan McSweeney, the party’s director of campaigns, has played a key role in elevating Sir Keir from Labour leadership contender to prime minister.

He was first introduced to Sir Keir by Steve Reed, the new environment secretary and former leader of Lambeth Council, whom he worked alongside to defeat the leftist faction within the local authority.

The pair subsequently launched the thinktank Labour Together, created as a sanctuary for Labour moderates and which Mr McSweeney was the director of between 2017 and 2020.

In a mirroring of the task he undertook in Lambeth, Mr McSweeney identified Sir Keir as the figure who could take Labour back to the centre and make it electorally viable once more.

Sue Gray

Sue Gray. Pic: PA
Pic: PA

Sir Keir’s decision to appoint Sue Gray – once one of the country’s most senior civil servants – as his chief of staff was a controversial one, largely due to her role in investigating the parties that took place in Downing Street during the COVID pandemic.

The Conservatives cried foul and suggested the appointment shed a new light on her partygate report – with former cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg claiming the conclusions in her investigation now resembled “a left-wing stitch up”.

Ms Gray formally joined Labour last autumn as it became engulfed by internal rows over its handling of the unfolding war in Gaza.

Matthew Doyle

Matthew Doyle made his name working first as a special adviser to former home secretary Lord Blunkett before moving on to advise Tony Blair in the latter years of his premiership.

Other roles he has held include head of press and broadcasting and TV media debates director for Gordon Brown during the 2005 general election.

He was brought back into the Labour fold as interim director of communications in June 2021 shortly after the party’s defeat in the Hartlepool by-election. The role then became permanent.

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Who is the new PM Sir Keir Starmer?

Deborah Mattinson

Deborah Mattinson, a former pollster to Gordon Brown who co-founded consultancy firm Britain Thinks (now called Thinks Insight and Strategy), was hired by Sir Keir in the aftermath of the Hartlepool by-election and a disappointing set of local election results that saw the party lose control of several key councils, including Durham.

Ms Mattinson, whose former firm specialised in focus groups, has encouraged Labour to prioritise winning those they call “hero voters” – Labour supporters who backed Brexit and then voted Tory in 2019 but who became disillusioned with the party.

Following Labour’s crushing 2019 election defeat, Ms Mattinson wrote a book titled Beyond The Red Wall which delved into the reasons why Labour’s erstwhile loyal supporters turned to Boris Johnson – and whether they could ever be coaxed back.

British Prime Minister Keir Starmer and his wife Victoria Starmer walk at Number 10 Downing Street, following the results of the election, in London, Britain, July 5, 2024. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs
Pic: Reuters

Stuart Ingham

As executive director of policy, Stuart Ingham is responsible for the policy commitments in the manifesto and for advising Sir Keir on all policy-related matters.

Like Mr McSweeney, Mr Ingham also worked on Sir Keir’s campaign to become Labour leader, where he also advised on policy issues.

Paul Ovenden

Paul Ovenden, a former newspaper journalist who joined Labour’s press team in 2014 before departing under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, is now deputy director of communications and the director of attack and rebuttal.

Mr Ovenden was responsible for seeking out stories and information that may damage the Conservatives in the election campaign – and similarly defending the Labour leader from his opponents’ political and personal attacks.

Keir Starmer and Victoria arrive at Downing Street.
Pic: No 10 Downing Street
Pic: No 10 Downing Street

Peter Hyman

A former adviser and speechwriter to Tony Blair, Peter Hyman now advises Sir Keir on policy issues, including education, his speciality.

Mr Hyman is co-director of Big Education, a multi-academy trust and a charity that runs a chain of schools across London. He is the co-founder and headteacher of School 21, a free school in Stratford, east London.

Read more:
Meet Victoria, Sir Keir Starmer’s wife
The new cabinet: Who’s in Starmer’s top team
Labour’s landslide in maps and charts

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Jill Cuthbertson

Jill Cuthbertson is Sir Keir’s private secretary and manages his time and commitments. She held the same role for Ed Miliband and Gordon Brown.

Helene Reardon-Bond

Helene Reardon- Bond is Sir Keir’s deputy chief of staff, working under Sue Gray. She was responsible for the party’s preparations for government.

Like Ms Gray, she has extensive experience as a civil servant and worked on high-profile campaigns including gender pay gap reporting regulations, same-sex marriage and eliminating violence against women and girls.


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