Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
14 June 2017

Jeremy Corbyn restores Owen Smith in low-key reshuffle

The Labour leader has rewarded loyalists and demonstrated Labour's new unity by promoting his former leadership rival. 

By Stephen Bush

Jeremy Corbyn has rewarded loyalists and brought Owen Smith, his opponent in the 2016 Labour leadership contest, back from the wilderness to serve as Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in a demonstration of Labour’s newfound unity following the party’s surprise advance in the election on 8 June.

Smith, who worked as a special adviser to Paul Murphy when he was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, knows the politics of Northern Ireland well and is respected across all five of Northern Ireland’s major politics, making him well-placed to manage a tricky role. The portfolio’s importance has increased as the devolved government in Northern Ireland has collapsed and the DUP is negotiating with the Conservatives to prop up the latter party in Westminster following the loss of their majority.

The move, which signals that Labour’s divisions have been forgiven and forgotten, also is an astute internal move. The return of Smith has been welcomed across the parliamentary Labour party.

Elsewhere, in a reshuffle low on drama, Corbyn has moved to replace retiring MPs or those seeking a voluntary return to the backbenches. Lesley Laird, who won her seat of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath back from the SNP on Thursday, is promoted straight the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, replacing David Anderson, who retired when Parliament dissolved for the early election.

Andrew Gwynne, who won praise from the leader’s office and from Corbynsceptic MPs for his management of the election campaign, remains as election coordinator and is rewarded with a departmental brief, that of Communities and Local Government, taking over from Teresa Pearce.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

The low-key reshuffle, which left the bulk of the Shadow Cabinet unchanged, is intended to reward loyalty while signalling that Labour is now united and that its internal conflict is behind it.