Louise Haigh takes over digital economy brief in Labour reshuffle

Written by Rebecca Hill on 10 October 2016 in News

Labour MP Louise Haigh has been named shadow minister for the digital economy, just a day before the government’s Digital Economy Bill enters the committee stage.

Louise Haigh has taken over from Chi Onwurah - Photo credit: PA

Haigh, who has been MP for Sheffield Heeley since May 2015, replaces Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah, who is moving on to shadow the industrial strategy brief.

The moves are part of Jeremy Corbyn’s latest reshuffle of his Labour party, following a failed leadership challenge by Owen Smith over the summer and a spate of resignations by Labour MPs from the party’s frontbench.

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Haigh, who has said she worked at a digital start-up before becoming an MP, was previously shadow Cabinet Office minister for digital reform, a role that focused on public sector reforms.

Her new job will be more wide-reaching and is expected to focus on the Digital Economy Bill that is currently making its way through parliament.

Writing on Twitter last night, Onwurah – who has been a long-standing and vocal critic of the government’s approach to digital, particularly around data ethics – welcomed her successor into the role.

“I know @LouHaigh and [shadow culture secretary and deputy Labour leader] @tom_watson will do great job holding government to account on their inadequate and reckless Digital Economy Bill,” she said.

The bill, which sets out rules for greater public data sharing and improved broadband connectivity, is due its first committee hearing tomorrow and Watson – who also has a history of speaking out against the government on digital issues - said Haigh would have to “hit the ground running”.

Meanwhile, Haigh took to the social media site to praise her predecessor’s work in the role, saying that she had “big shoes to fill in footsteps of top Labour sister”.

According to ministerial appointments list circulated by Labour, Haigh’s role will be in solely in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

When Onwurah had the position it was shared between DCMS and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, but BIS has now been merged with energy and climate change to form the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Labour has yet to confirm who will be taking on Haigh’s previous role as minister for digital reform.

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