Hilary Benn 'recognises Jeremy Corbyn's mandate as Labour leader'


Hilary Benn agreed not to speak out from the frontbench in opposition to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during the days of intense reshuffle negotiations, shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said.

The shadow foreign secretary had been tipped for the sack after a bravura Commons speech supporting military intervention in Syria which won cheers from across the political spectrum, but kept hold of the brief amid claims that his dismissal would spark a mass walkout.

After more than 30 hours of wrangling, Mr Corbyn sacked two senior figures for "disloyalty" and installed a Trident opponent in the key shadow defence brief.

The shadow chancellor insisted Mr Benn was "never going to go" and and there was "never going to be blood on the carpet".

Asked if the shadow foreign secretary had been gagged, Mr McDonnell told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "Hilary Benn has ensured that he works more closely with Jeremy in the future and that he will be representing the views of the Parliamentary Labour Party and when it comes down to future debates we won't have a situation where he will be speaking from the frontbench when there is a major disagreement on policy and where the Parliamentary Labour Party is in the majority against him.

"He has recognised the mandate that Jeremy Corbyn has with our members, an overwhelming mandate, and he'll recognise his leadership on this issue."

On future free votes, Mr Corbyn will "represent the Parliamentary Labour Party at the frontbench".

"If there is a disagreement and people on a free vote want to express their views they will do it from the backbenches," he added.

Europe spokesman Pat McFadden and shadow culture secretary Michael Dugher were sacked for disloyalty, while Maria Eagle is being shifted from shadow defence secretary to replace Mr Dugher, having been seen as blocking Mr Corbyn's desire to oppose renewal of the UK's nuclear deterrent. The defence brief is taken by Emily Thornberry, who is in line with the leader on Trident.

Mr McDonnell said Mr McFadden had "distorted" the Labour leader's views on a number of occasions and was sacked "because Jeremy needed to have confidence in someone who was in a major role".

He said frontbenchers were free to express their views "but it has to be done in a way that is not personalised in any way".

MCDONNELL: Benn Was Never Going to Go