Shadow ministers urge Corbyn not to change top team


Shadow ministers have urged Jeremy Corbyn not to change his top team amid claims it would spark a wave of resignations.

High profile figures are reportedly facing the axe in a so-called revenge reshuffle, including shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn and opposition chief whip Rosie Winterton, following the divisive vote on military intervention in Syria.

But shadow culture secretary Michael Dugher warned that kicking out front bench members in retaliation was "not very new politics", a reference to the leader's pledge to preside over a "kinder" style of leadership.

Jon Ashworth, shadow minister without portfolio, said the party must focus on attacking the Conservatives instead of "internal squabbles".

Speculation is mounting over Mr Benn's future after his speech in support of intervention in Syria against Islamic State won widespread plaudits from across Westminster and overshadowed the party leader.

Ms Winterton's position as chief whip is also believed to be precarious after she orchestrated the decision to allow Labour MPs to be given a free vote.

In an article for the New Statesman Mr Dugher drew a parallel with the Star Wars' franchise, saying film-maker George Lucas rejected the use of the word revenge in the title of one of the films because it "wasn't the Jedi way".

"Revenge is not very Jedi," he wrote. "It's also not very new politics."

He added: "Next week, when the Commons returns from recess, all Labour's energy should be focused on getting after the Tories."

Tensions surrounding Mr Corbyn's expected reshuffle were fuelled by Labour whip Grahame Morris who urged him to sack "mutineers".

Mr Ashworth said the MP had since recognised he had made a "daft error" and urged party members to "calm down".

He told BBC Radio 4's World at One: "I honestly don't know who has been stoking all this speculation in the newspapers, it is not very helpful."

Mr Ashworth said it had been a "rotten year" for the party.

He added: "Of course it is up to Jeremy whether he reshuffles his shadow cabinet. That's one of the responsibilities he has been given by being elected leader.

"But, I think party members want us to come back in January, focus on the campaigning, focus on the local elections we have got coming up in May, focus on holding the Government to account in the Commons for their failure over preparing the country for floods and not get into these internal squabbles about who's up and who's down."