Corbyn's shadow Cabinet reshuffle sparks new row

Mr Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, won a decisive victory in a leadership contest last month.
Mr Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, won a decisive victory in a leadership contest last month.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

LONDON • British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has come under fire for his shadow Cabinet reshuffle that his critics said sabotaged talks on having some positions elected by MPs rather than appointed, the media reported yesterday.

The internal dissension in the Labour Party came to light yesterday after Mr John Cryer, the chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), said he and former Chief Whip Rosie Winterton had been kept in the dark about the reshuffle, the BBC reported.

In a letter to Labour MPs, Mr Cryer said he was taken by surprise by the reshuffle last week that "had not been discussed or mentioned" during talks aimed at restoring the elected shadow Cabinet. "It now seems to me that the party's leadership did not engage in the talks in any constructive way," he said.

Mr Cryer said he and Ms Winterton started negotiations with people from the leadership team after the PLP voted "overwhelmingly" for the return of elections to the shadow Cabinet early last month.

A spokesman for Mr Corbyn, who won a decisive victory in his second leadership contest late last month, said: "Shadow Cabinet elections will be considered by Labour's national executive committee as part of a wider party democratisation at a special meeting next month."

The reshuffle saw some of Mr Corbyn's critics return to the front bench, but very few of his allies departed, according to the BBC.

Despite his call for Mr Corbyn to resign over the summer, deputy leader Tom Watson was appointed shadow culture secretary. In other appointments, Mr Jon Ashworth became shadow health secretary, Mr John Healey returned to housing and Ms Diane Abbott became shadow home secretary.

"The problem is that, on the one hand, people criticise Jeremy for being weak and taking too long on his reshuffles," shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry told the BBC.

"And yet, when he decides that he needs to do one in order to fill vacancies and reach out, people then criticise him for being too decisive and too strong.

"You can't play it both ways."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 09, 2016, with the headline 'Corbyn's shadow Cabinet reshuffle sparks new row'. Print Edition | Subscribe