Labour MPs warn Jeremy Corbyn against 'divisive' reshuffle


A series of Labour backbenchers have warned Jeremy Corbyn not to carry out a shake-up of his top team amid speculation the leader will move against some of his shadow cabinet critics.

High-profile figures whose jobs are reportedly at risk in the so-called revenge reshuffle include Hilary Benn, who backed bombing Islamic State (IS) in Syria in opposition to the party leader, shadow defence secretary Maria Eagle and chief whip Dame Rosie Winterton.

But Mr Corbyn faced criticism for allowing rumours of an imminent shadow cabinet shake-up to distract from the task of opposing the Conservatives.

The Observer reported that Mr Benn could be offered another shadow cabinet post - which would be viewed as a demotion - and an alternative brief would also be made available to Ms Eagle, who has clashed with the leader over the retention of the Trident nuclear deterrent system.

Such a move would reduce the risk of the leader and his shadow ministers speaking from opposing viewpoints, but could trigger a wave of resignations. 

Writing in the Observer, Stephen Kinnock, the son of former leader Lord Kinnock, warned that a reshuffle would be a "waste of time and energy" while fellow 2015 intake MPs Wes Streeting and Neil Coyle also raised concerns. 

Mr Kinnock said: "A reshuffle would simply leave people confused about what this fabled 'new kind of politics' is all about. It's a waste of time and energy."

Mr Streeting said: "Over Christmas, we should have been taking the Tories to task over their budget cuts for flood defences. Instead, damaging briefing from the top of the party meant Labour's main message was about a shadow cabinet reshuffle.

"This is no time for divisive reshuffles or an introspective debate about party structures."

Mr Coyle said: "The idea that Corbyn must only include clones and drones in the shadow cabinet is farcical."

The 2015 backbenchers' comments came just days after shadow ministers also advised Mr Corbyn to keep his top team in place.

Shadow culture secretary Michael Dugher warned that kicking out front bench members in retaliation was "not very new politics".

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