Politics

Shadow First Secretary of State and Shadow Business Secretary
Famously told by David Cameron to 'calm down, dear' in the House of Commons in 2011, Angela Eagle has retained her place in the shadow cabinet under Jeremy Corbyn and is a popular substitute for the party leader at Prime Minister's Questions. Eagle stood for the deputy leadership of the party, losing out to Tom Watson, and as shadow business secretary she is charged with winning the backing of businesses for Labour. Eagle defeated a Conservative incumbent to become MP for Wallasey in 1992. She is an accomplished chess player and her twin sister, Maria, also sits in the shadow cabinet, as shadow secretary for culture, media and sport.
Mayor of London
Boris Johnson is one of Britain's most recognisable politicians, known for the bumbling persona and colourful antics that belie his intellect and ambition. In 2001, he was elected MP for Henley where he served, while also editor of the Spectator, until he was elected mayor of London in 2008. He resumed his seat in the House of Commons in 2015 as MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip and will stand down as mayor in 2016. Avid cyclist Johnson vowed to double spending on cycling in the capital, introducing the hire scheme known colloquially as Boris Bikes, but the ongoing lack of dedicated cycle highways has frustrated many. He has also reinstated the popular Routemaster buses and banned alcohol on public transport, but his proposal for a 24-hour tube has been deferred in the face of disputes with the RMT over how the service will be staffed.
Head, Number 10 Policy Unit
Former Times journalist Camilla Cavendish was appointed to lead David Cameron's policy unit following last year's general election. Regarded as a compassionate Conservative reformer, she has called for Cameron to look outside the party's comfort zone for new ideas. Cavendish had worked in a political capacity prior to joining Number 10: she conducted a review into the NHS for Jeremy Hunt in 2013, in which she recommended introducing training standards across health and social care. As a journalist, she won the Paul Foot Award in 2008 for her work exposing miscarriages of justice in child protection cases, which led then justice secretary Jack Straw to make family courts more accountable by opening them to the media. Cavendish was a contemporary of Cameron's at Oxford, and a Kennedy Scholar at Harvard.
Green Party Member of Parliament
Born in Worcestershire, Caroline Lucas joined the Green Party in 1986 and has been a driving force behind the its rise in stature ever since. Having led the party from 2008 to 2012, the 2010 general election saw Lucas become the Green's first MP and she was re-elected, with increased support, in last year's vote. Prior to the election, a YouGov survey found that many Londoners believed Lucas was best suited to represent the Greens in the live television debates, further adding to her credentials as one of the most influential members of the Green Party. Even though this election saw the Greens win their highest-ever share of the votes, Lucas remains the only representative of the Green Party in the House of Commons.
Director, Vote Leave
'Tory agitator' Dominic Cummings is a former special adviser to Michael Gove and a prominent voice in the campaign for the UK to leave the EU. His Vote Leave movement has positioned itself as a moderate alternative to UKIP's anti-EU campaign, though commentators believe Cummings may be as extreme as Farage: in November last year Vote Leave sent student protesters to heckle David Cameron during a speech at the CBI. Born in Durham, the 'exceptionally intelligent' Cummings studied at Oxford and was appointed Tory party director of strategy by Iain Duncan Smith aged just 30. He worked for Michael Gove for almost seven years, steering a drive towards higher educational standards and a clearer exam system, but has never been a member of a political party.
Conservative Member of Parliament
Newly elected Conservative MP Heidi Allen used her maiden speech to criticise her party's proposal to cut tax credits in October 2015, establishing herself as an uncompromising political force, unconcerned with currying favour amongst more senior party members. Described by the Spectator as 'the bravest and finest that was given from this new intake of MPs', Allen's speech also stated her reason for entering politics: the 2011 riots in Tottenham, which she described as a sign of 'a country that was falling apart'. Allen studied Astrophysics at UCL and worked in business for 18 years prior to becoming MP for South Cambridgeshire, and sits on the Work and Pensions Committee.
Shadow Foreign Secretary
Shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn's closing speech during December's debate on airstrikes in Syria was described as one of the greatest ever seen in the Commons chamber, and received applause from members on all sides. It was also his most public statement of opposition to leader Jeremy Corbyn, though Benn has retained his job in the recent Labour reshuffle. Thought by some to be a Labour leader in waiting, the son of hard-left former cabinet minister Tony describes himself as 'a Benn but not a Bennite', and is regarded as a force for pragmatism in the party.
Shadow Chancellor
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell is one of the longest-serving MPs in Corbyn's shadow cabinet, having represented West London's Hayes and Harlington constituency since 1997. He is also Corbyn's closest ally, who managed his leadership campaign, and shares many of the Labour leader's socialist ideals, recently appearing alongside striking junior doctors in a show of solidarity even though his party did not support the strike. Born in Liverpool and raised in Norfolk, McDonnell worked for the National Union of Miners and the TUC before moving on to Camden Borough Council and the Greater London Council, where he was deputy to Ken Livingstone.
General Secretary, Unite
Unite, the largest trade union in the UK, wields significant influence in British politics through both its financial support of the Labour Party and its 3 million-strong membership. Having threatened in 2014 to disaffiliate Unite from Labour and set up a rival party, depending on the outcome of the 2015 general election, general secretary Len McCluskey has since held up his alliance with Labour despite their loss. Current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's left-wing positioning seems to resonate more closely with McCluskey's views.
First Minister for Scotland and Leader, SNP
2015 saw Nicola Sturgeon preside over the SNP's landslide election victory in Scotland, where it won 56 out of 59 seats. 'Queen of Scots' and a vocal proponent of independence, Sturgeon upstaged her rivals in the televised leader debates prior to the election, which she says made her 'probably more nervous than I've been for anything else in politics'. She was touted as Britain's Most Dangerous Woman by the Daily Mail, but is a popular figure with the public, and finds herself at constant demand from selfie-takers. Sturgeon joined the SNP as a teenager and worked as a solicitor prior to joining the Scottish Parliament. In 2015 she was named the UK's most influential woman by BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour.
Leader, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party
Former TA signaller Ruth Davidson is charged with reviving the fortunes of the Scottish Conservative Party in the face of SNP dominance in Scotland. As a committed unionist, she is campaigning against another referendum as Scottish independence remains a priority for the SNP majority. Known for her humour, warmth and straight talking, Davidson is Christian and openly gay, and worked as a producer, presenter and reporter for the BBC for a period prior to entering politics.
Executive Director of Strategy and Communications, Labour Party
Guardian journalist Seumas Milne took leave from his role at the paper to lead Labour's communications, and is now responsible for ensuring beleaguered leader Jeremy Corbyn receives an effective press. On the far-left extreme of the Left, Milne's appointment was controversial, regarded as a potential conflict of interest with his Guardian role and a reflection not of his skill in media management but of his political views chiming with Corbyn's own. Milne is the son of former BBC director-general Alasdair Milne, and was educated at Winchester and Oxford – a background somewhat at odds with his politics.
Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service
As of September 2014, Sir Jeremy Heywood has been head of the home civil service, having been in the role of cabinet secretary since 2012. In this role he oversees the almost half a million public servants working in UK public institutions, implementing policy, and administering tax, pensions and benefits systems. Prior to this, Heywood had an impressive career at the heart of government having joined HM Treasury in 1992. He was principal private secretary to Chancellor Norman Lamont, later enjoying the same role with two successive prime ministers from 1999 to 2003. Heywood also spent over three years as managing director at Morgan Stanley, including as co-head of the UK Investment Banking Division.
Deputy Chairman and Head of Policy, UKIP
Suzanne Evans was a former Conservative Party councillor but left the party in 2013 and joined UKIP, where she is now deputy chairman and head of policy. She was heralded as a possible future UKIP leader after her delivery of the party's manifesto before the 2015 general election, and was recommended by Nigel Farage to become interim leader following his intended resignation. She has been chosen to write UKIP's manifesto for the London mayoral election, in which the party's culture spokesman Peter Whittle will be standing. Evans has worked as a reporter for BBC radio and as a PR and marketing consultant.
Chairman, Britain Stronger in Europe
Former M&S boss Stuart Rose is now leading the campaign to keep Britain in the EU, Britain Stronger in Europe, reasoning that a Brexit would risk the UK's prosperity. He hopes that a vote will take place sooner rather than later to avoid 'referendum fatigue'. Rose, who spent time in Dar es Salaam as a chid with his father in the RAF, started work at Marks and Spencer as a trainee, and returned in 2004 as chief executive after spells leading Burton and Arcadia Group. He has worked for the government in the past, advising it on ways to turn round failing NHS hospitals, and was made a Tory peer in 2014.
Chancellor of the Exchequer
George Osborne has been responsible for delivering the government's unpopular programme of cuts to reduce the UK deficit since he took up the post of chancellor in 2010. Fortunately for Osborne, he apparently 'doesn't give a damn about being liked', and while many might argue with his methods, few can dispute their efficacy, for now at least: new fears of another economic crisis may present Osborne with his most significant challenge since the Conservatives' surprise victory at the 2015 general election. Cameron's closest friend in the cabinet, Osborne shares his privileged background: he was educated at St Paul's and a member of the notorious Bullingdon Club at Oxford. He became the youngest conservative MP in the House of Commons when he was elected, at the age of 30, in 2001.
Labour Member of Parliament
Former human rights lawyer Sadiq Khan is the current frontrunner in the London mayoral election campaign. Having served as MP for Tooting for over a decade, Khan's experience as transport secretary under Gordon Brown may prove useful when addressing the complexities of London's tubes, buses and trains. Khan has stated his intention to advocate for London rather than for Labour as mayor, and insists he won't be a 'patsy' for Jeremy Corbyn. One of eight siblings, he was born into a working-class British Pakistani family and grew up on a council estate in Earlsfield.
Business Secretary
Sajid Javid was appointed David Cameron's business secretary following the 2015 general election, having been culture secretary for a year prior to that. He oversees the department responsible for business and consumer affairs, employment, further education and training, and is also president of the board of trade. Before being elected MP for Bromsgrove, Javid worked in business and finance, becoming a vice-president at Chase Manhattan Bank aged 25. He later moved to Deutsche Bank, leaving as a senior managing director in 2009 to go into politics. The son of a Pakistani bus driver, Javid was born in Lancashire and grew up in Bristol. He was named Politician of the Year at the British Muslim Awards in 2015.
Home Secretary
The UK's most powerful female politician, Theresa May is also the longest-serving Home Secretary, having held the post since 2010. Responsible for all internal affairs, national security and citizenship, she has been at the heart of the UK's response to the Syrian refugee crisis and heightened concerns over terrorism following events in Paris last year. May helped address the Tories' image as the 'nasty party' and has galvanised its female members. Fast-tracked to the shadow cabinet after a long career in local politics, she is respected for her intelligence and principles.
Conservative Member of Parliament
Environmentalist Zac Goldsmith is MP for Richmond and a Conservative Party candidate for the London mayoral election on 5th May. Before he became an MP in 2010, Goldsmith was director and editor of environmental magazine The Ecologist, founded by his uncle, and he has campaigned on a number of environmental issues, saying that David Attenborough's wildlife programmes first inspired his interest in the natural world. He is also an active philanthropist, having inherited a share of his father's billion-pound fortune, and is a patron of Fortune Forum with Jimmy Wales. Recent indications show that Goldsmith is lagging behind his rival Sadiq Khan in the mayoral race, but he remains a strong contender as the future mayor of London.
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