Jeremy Corbyn rings the changes… and Labour MPs hit out (again)

Written by David Singleton on 7 October 2016 in Diary

The Labour leader has angered moderates by sacking chief whip Rosie Winterton.

The headline news from Jeremy Corbyn’s latest reshuffle is that Diane Abbott has been promoted to shadow home secretary.

Abbott said of her new role: "I am honoured to serve. My first job when I left university was as a graduate trainee in the Home Office, so my career has come full circle."

Some disgruntled Labour insiders said the full circle would really have come if Abbott was home secretary rather than shadowing the job.  But many Labour MPs are most exercised about the news Rosie Winterton, who had tried to negotiate between the leader and his backbenchers, is out as chief whip.

Labour sources said that Winterton was sacked at the start of a meeting to discuss a deal that would allow the party’s MPs to elect some shadow cabinet posts. She is being replaced Gordon Brown's former bruiser Nick Brown. During the New Labour years, Brown acquired a reputation as a ruthless Brownite enforcer and in his memoirs Tony Blair accused him of “working for Gordon and against me”.

The sacking of Winterton has been seen by some Labour MPs the most hostile act of Corbyn’s leadership.

Neil Coyle told BBC Radio 5 live that Winterton’s work during a difficult period for Labour had been "underestimated".

Tom Blenkinsop said on Twitter that she had been “an excellent chief whip… the leadership will miss her diplomatic abilities acutely”.  He said the reshuffle showed that “Corbyn wants submission, not unity”.

And the Times quotes one Labour MP fuming: “This is the single most hostile and divisive act that there has been in all of this. People are totally shocked and apoplectic. He sacked our negotiator. There can be no peace with them.”

Elsewhere in the reshuffle:

  • Clive Lewis has been moved to busniness secretary - just days after he defied Jeremy Corbyn by saying he would not try to change Labour's policy on Trident.
  • Anti-Trident Nia Griffith replaces Lewis as shadow defence secretary.
  • Baroness Chakrabarti becomes shadow Attorney General
  • Keir Starmer becomes shadow Brexit secretary
  • Jonathan Reynolds becomes shadow economic secretary to the Treasury.

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