Fabian appointed Shadow Junior Foreign Affairs Minister

Labour Shadow Cabinet Reshuffle – 7th January 2016

On Friday 8th Janurary, Fabian issued the following statement:

Yesterday I was appointed by Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to Hilary Benn’s Foreign Affairs Team as a Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister.  It is the first time I have been invited to join the Front Bench since I was elected to Parliament in 1997.

From 2001 until 2010 I was a member of the influential Foreign Affairs Committee under the chairmanship of Donald Anderson and then, in the 2005 Parliament, Mike Gapes.  My interest in international relations and foreign affairs continued during the last Parliament when I became Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Groups for Tibet and Turkey as well as holding office in many other country groups such as Iceland and Iran.  I also joined the executive committee of the British Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), becoming its Treasurer in 2013. I represented the BG IPU twice at the United Nations in New York and on a delegation to Croatia.  I also led a delegation to Turkey to visit the Syrian Refugee Camps. In 2012, I met with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in London and in Leeds.

Following the 2015 general election, Hilary Benn was asked by our Acting Party Leader, Harriet Harman, to become Shadow Foreign Secretary and after the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Party Leader in September last year, Hilary was re-appointed to the position.  He is well-qualified for the job and has been an excellent adversary to Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond.

Yesterday, I also met with Hilary, who is MP for the neighbouring constituency of Leeds Central, to find out more about my role in the team of five Labour MPs.  I have been given responsibility for a wide range of Foreign and Commonwealth Office issues including:

Counter Proliferation;
NATO and European Security


The United Nations, international organisations, peacekeeping and the International Criminal Court;

Sub-Saharan Africa;
Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, [Kashmir], Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal;
The Falkland Islands; The Commonwealth; and


I will have the chance to ask at least one question at every Foreign Office Departmental Questions session, which takes place about once every six weeks in the Chamber of the House of Commons.  The next one will be on Tuesday 12th January.  I will also be expected to respond to any debates which relate to my areas of responsibility; to respond to any relevant Urgent Questions in Parliament; and to give the opposition view in Westminster Hall debates covering these issues.

As a member of the FCO Shadow Team, I may have the opportunity to visit some of the countries within my remit, funds allowing.  Unfortunately, I will have to resign from the International Development Committee (IDC) of which I have been a member since February 2013.  I will also no longer be able chair Parliamentary Committees and have today withdrawn from the Speaker’s Panel of Chairs.

It is a challenging time for international relations and I hope that I am able to bring my more than eighteen years of experience, knowledge and interest to the team.  Other Labour MPs on the team include Pat Glass, Diana Johnson and Catherine West.

In accepting this honour and responsibility, I wish to pledge my continued commitment to all my constituents in Leeds North East. My service to constituents, and concern for the matters that are raised with me, will in no way diminish. I have the support of a dedicated staff team in the constituency office and together we will ensure that all case work matters continue to be given given our urgent and fullest attention.