The controversial Birmingham MP Khalid Mahmood has been chosen by Jeremy Corbyn as Labour’s Shadow Minister for Europe.
Describing his new position, Mr Mahmood said Britain must work hard to keep good relations with the European Union (EU) because we still need those relationships after we leave the EU.
But he said there was no going back on the decision to leave the EU.
The Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr was appointed to the position as part of Jeremy Corbyn’s reshuffle of his shadow cabinet and front bench.
Mahmood is part of Labour’s foreign affairs team, working with Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry.
His focus will be on how Britain should maintain good relations with EU members rather than the process of leaving the EU, where Labour is represented by a different set of shadow ministers led by Keir Starmer, the Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.
Mr Mahmood told the Birmingham Mail: “This will be huge issue because leaving the European Union will mean there is a lot more work.
“I will not be dealing with Brexit, I will be dealing more with the relationship building and confidence building issues in Europe.
“Whilst Brexit carries on, and the Tories don’t know what they are doing and refuse to inform the House what plans they have to achieve Brexit, our position is that we need to keep on working with our European friends and to ensure that we are committed to NATO, to keeping up ties with Europe, and making sure we are able to continue the good relationships we have.
“We need to make it clear that although we are leaving the EU we are not going to be ending our relationship with Europe.
“We actually need to be far more engaged on that front because we can’t rely on the EU networks that were there before.”
He said Labour accepted the verdict of June’s EU referendum and had to find ways to make Brexit work.
“At least seven out often Labour constituencies voted for Brexit so we have to understand the decision they made.
“Now what we have to do is move on and decide how we can support the people who made those decisions, and challenge the Conservatives.”
Mr Mahmood is considered by many British Muslims as a pro-Israel neoconservative politician due to his links with the right-wing think-tank Henry Jackson Society, and his support for the controversial anti-terrorism Prevent strategy and British military intervention in the Middle East.
In 2009, Mr Mahmood was exposed during the MPs’ expenses scandal when it was revealed that he claimed £1,350 to stay at the five-star Bentley Hotel in London with his girlfriend and charged the taxpayer on his second home allowance.