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Following Labour’s landslide election win, Jonathan Reynolds MP has been appointed as the UK’s new Secretary of State for Business and Trade.

Reynolds will lead the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) and has also been appointed as the President of the Board of Trade.

He had held the shadow business and trade brief since September 2023 and is known to be a well-experienced political operator, having had various frontline roles.


Born in Houghton-le-Spring in the North East of England to a working class family – his father was a firefighter in Durham for over thirty years – Reynolds graduated from the University of Manchester and worked as a solicitor before entering politics.

After a stint in local government, Reynolds worked for former MP James Purnell before succeeding him as the representative for the Manchester-area seat of Stalybridge and Hyde in the 2010 general election.

In the last general election, he secured 16,320 votes for the constituency – double that of his nearest rival.


Reynolds has served in front bench roles for every Labour leader since Ed Miliband.

First taking on a number of junior roles under Miliband, he offered to resign upon Jeremy Corbyn taking over as party leader.

He was persuaded to stay and took on the rail portfolio. After resigning from this role and spending a brief time on the back benches, Reynolds returned to take the economy and City of London portfolios on Corbyn’s front bench.

He held onto the City role until moving to the work and pensions brief shortly after Starmer became leader in 2020, later being shuffled to the business role in 2021.

He took on trade as well in 2023, reflecting former prime minister Rishi Sunak’s decision to merge the business and trade departments.


Reynolds has made a number of statements and commitments on trade.

When in opposition, Reynolds called for a “strategic approach” to trade negotiations and criticised the Conservative government’s attempts to sign as many deals as possible. Instead, he has signalled a focus on “quality over quantity”, talking up agreements with India and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Early into his new role, he has told Times Radio that he was “concerned” about a “loophole” that allowed firms to avoid import duties by shipping small packages directly to customers. He said he would discuss this directly with Shein, the Chinese ecommerce company.

Mirroring the line of the new PM, Reynolds has repeatedly emphasised he will not push for re-entry into the EU single market or customs union.

Instead, a Labour government would seek smaller agreements with the EU, including a veterinary deal to ease sanitary and phytosanitary controls, and a deal on the mutual recognition of qualifications to boost the UK’s trade in services.

He also told CityAM today (8 July): “If we can sell more whisky, more salmon to a market which is so significant to us, of course we should explore an opportunity like that.”


He has also been an advocate for a UK industrial strategy and was not shy about saying that past governments – both Labour and Conservative – had not come up with a joined-up approach for the UK economy.

In his previous role as shadow business secretary, he launched Labour’s industrial strategy on 26 September 2022.

Under the plans, there would be an Industrial Strategy Council that would report back on the four ‘missions’ of the policy:

  • Delivering clean power by 2030
  • Harnessing data for public good
  • Caring for the future
  • Building a resilient economy

Reynolds highlighted common issues facing companies – such as supply chain shocks and a need for skilled workers – as some of the problems the strategy would tackle.

Financial services

During his time as Labour’s shadow city minister, he was described an important representative for the party in a place where the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, was not typically welcomed.

He was noticeably critical of Brexit’s impact on financial services, calling attention to some of the gaps left by post-Brexit legislation that would hit various industries.

In November 2022, he was awarded Freedom of the City by the City of London Corporation in recognition of his work for the square mile and for UK businesses as a whole.

Trains, ships and automobiles

During his stint as rails shadow minister, he backed the nationalisation of the UK’s railways. He also called attention to a “chronic underinvestment in infrastructure in the regions outside London” that would stunt the growth of UK business outside of the South East of England.

In a debate on the automotive industry this past July, he said the UK would “never be able to match the sheer fiscal firepower of the US Inflation Reduction Act” but said that the UK still had advantages in other areas, such as research and development.

He also signed a parliamentary early day motion criticising DP World and P&O Ferries for their treatment of workers.


Reynolds is a Sunderland AFC supporter, a member of the Labour Party’s Christian group and a self-identified “moderate”.

The North-Easterner also owns two Labradoodles, which won the Westminster Dog of the Year competition in 2016.