Harriet Harman has selected her new shadow cabinet after confirming she is now the acting leader of the opposition following Ed Miliband’s devastating electoral defeat.
But she says she will not stay on as deputy once a new party leader is elected.
Ms Harman has had to replace some big names who lost their seats as she prepares her beleaguered troops to take the fight to the Tories for the next five years.
Ed Balls has been replaced by Chris Leslie as shadow chancellor while Hilary Benn has become shadow foreign secretary, succeeding Douglas Alexander.
After the Conservatives bagging an outright victory last week, Miliband said he was “deeply sorry” and immediately resigned.
On Friday Ms Harman confirmed that, as deputy party leader, she would be “stepping forward to be acting leader until a new leader is elected by the party.”
In a surprise twist, she added that she does not intend to stay on as deputy once a new leader is selected, but did not respond to questions from the News as to why she had taken this decision.
It also remains unclear why the long-serving MP and senior party member has not put her own hat in the ring in the leadership contest. She has revived proposals to make either the Labour leader or deputy a woman.
Being acting party leader is not a first for Ms Harman, who did the same thing in 2010 when Gordon Brown resigned.
After 33 years as the serving MP for Camberwell and Peckham Ms Harman romped with an impressive 32,614 votes last week.
Despite a disappointing night for Labour nationally, Ms Harman managed to increase her majority in Peckham and Camberwell to over 25,000 votes more than her nearest competitor, Conservative candidate, Naomi Newstead.
In her speech after the result was announced, Ms Harman said: “It is a great privilege to represent Camberwell and Peckham and it is an honour for me to once again be re-elected. And I rededicate myself to serving this diverse and dynamic constituency.
“I will stand up for all of my constituents and help them with their individual problems. I’ll stand up for them against the unfairness that is sometimes reaped upon them like the Bedroom Tax. I’ll stand up for our precious public services particularly the NHS,” she said.
Runner-up Ms Newstead told the News she was “really pleased” to come second with 6,790 votes, as her party usually come third in Camberwell and Peckham.
“I couldn’t believe it – the Conservatives usually come third (in Camberwell and Peckham) so I’m really pleased with that,” she said.
“I’m hugely grateful to everyone who’s supported me,” she added.