The only surprise is that it took this long for Sir Keir to realise that this role did, in fact, need to be filled on merit by a politician – and economist – of the Leeds West MP’s standing.
And this appointment – one that sees Ms Reeves going head to head with Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the Richmond MP, on Treasury matters – is in the nation’s best interests.
After all, Mr Sunak has enjoyed a meteoric rise and is well-regarded for myriad support schemes that he put place to protect jobs and businesses. Yet his greater challenge is managing the recovery, and tackling the social inequalities that Covid has exposed so searingly, and this demands effective opposition in Parliament rather than a policy ‘free pass’.
Here Ms Reeves, who has played an integral role highlighting Government double standards when it comes to probity and standards in public life, will play to her own strengths.
Her background as a Bank of England economist and mathematician, coupled with an ability to think strategically as a reputed chess player, means the Treasury, too, will have to raise its game.
But Ms Reeves also appreciates that Labour will have to offer a far more coherent economic strategy if the party is to ever win back the country’s trust – her own experience in Leeds mean she will want Sir Keir, and her colleagues, to be far more specific on levelling up and, on doing so, put Ministers on the spot over their own opaqueness.
And while domestic politics continues to be characterised as a personality contest between Boris Johnson and Sir Keir, it is the sub-plot – the battle for economic supremacy between Rishi Sunak and Rachel Reeves – that is most likely to shape the recovery. And the future of Britain.
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