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7 October 2016updated 05 Oct 2023 8:28am

Jeremy Corbyn reshuffles the shadow cabinet – live!

Jeremy Corbyn has completed his shadow cabinet reshuffle, and gained the balance of power on Labour's NEC.

By Julia Rampen

Welcome to the New Statesman liveblog as Jeremy Corbyn reshuffles his shadow cabinet – please hit refresh for updates!

19:04: The full shadow cabinet list is below. I’m going back to my duck. Last few observations: the appointment of Valerie Vaz as shadow leader of the Commons and Jo Stevens to shadow wales means that Paul Flynn, 81, can go back to the backbenches, from whence he was summoned (for the first time) after the rebellion this summer. Also, it’s raining women! Corbyn has kept his promise to give half the roles to women – in fact, they are the majority. This means there will be no fighting at shadow cabinet, because as we all know, that’s something that “happens between men“. Plus, here’s John Healey on why he unresigned

Leader of the Opposition – Jeremy Corbyn

Shadow Foreign Secretary – Emily Thornberry

Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer – John McDonnell

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Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury – Rebecca Long-Bailey

Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union – Sir Keir Starmer

Shadow Home Secretary – Diane Abbott

Shadow Secretary of State for Business – Clive Lewis

Shadow Secretary of State for Education – Angela Rayner

Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade – Barry Gardiner

Shadow Secretary of State for Defence – Nia Griffith

Shadow Lord President of the Council and National Elections and Campaigns Co-ordinator – Jon Trickett

Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions – Debbie Abrahams

Shadow Secretary of State for Health – Jonathan Ashworth

Shadow Secretary of State for International Development – Kate Osamor

Shadow Secretary of State for Transport – Andy McDonald

Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government – Teresa Pearce 

Shadow Secretary of State for Justice – Richard Burgon

Shadow Attorney General –Baroness Shami Chakrabarti

Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport – Tom Watson

Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – Rachael Maskell

Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland and Northern Ireland – Dave Anderson

Shadow Secretary of State for Wales – Jo Stevens

Shadow Secretary of State for Housing – John Healey

Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities – Sarah Champion

Shadow Minister for Diverse Communities – Dawn Butler

Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs – Cat Smith

Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office – Ian Lavery

Shadow Minister for Mental Health and Social Care – Barbara Keeley

Shadow Minister without Portfolio – Andrew Gwynne

Shadow Leader of the House – Valerie Vaz

The frontbench members of the ruling national executive committee are Jeremy Corbyn and Tom Watson, plus Rebecca Long-Bailey, Jon Trickett and Kate Osamor.

19:00: Cat Smith is staying on as shadow minister for youth and voter engagement. So perhaps she was just changing her bio to screw with us.  

18:59: “Corbyn spokesperson saying shadow cabinet elections talks will go on with new chief whip,” reports the Guardian’s Anushka Asthana. Maybe so, but this was not the reshuffle of a cowed party leader, desperately hoping the rebels would return. The dumping of Jon Ashworth from the NEC, and the move of Clive Lewis to business show that Corbyn had clear, strategic aims.

18:52: The Cryer email is proving enough of a Friday Night Surprise that I’m letting my duck in plum sauce get cold. John Cryer is, shall we say, no one’s idea of a Blairite. He’s on the left of the party, and a member of the socialist Campaign group. He voted against top-up fees. And Iraq. And used to work for the Morning Star. You get my drift.

18:46: Exhibit A in the grumbling: PLP chair John Cryer has emailed MPs to say that he and former shadow chief whip Rosie Winterton tried to broker a unity deal with Corbyn, but the leader “did not engage in the talks in any constructive way”. He also says the reshuffle was not discussed with him and Winterton, and that they had been prepared to compromise on not having all shadow cabinet places elected (which was never going to fly, as it would have been curtains for John McDonnell).  


18:41 As Glen O’Hara points out, there have been relatively few “unresignations” from rebels. Combined with the swoop on that NEC place, expect a lot of grumbling how the promised olive branch has turned out to just be a stick.

18:37: The Corb giveth, and the Corb taketh away, though. It’s now confirmed that Jon Ashworth has been unilaterally disarmed from his seat on the NEC, with the leader’s office announcing that Kate Osamar (a trusty Corbynite) will take it. 

18:34 Helen here. With scant concern for my upcoming Chinese takeaway, there are more announcements on the shadow cabinet. John Healey makes his predicted return to housing (it’s an interesting brief, given Corbyn’s commitment to half a million new council houses, and he’s well on top it). Plus deputy leader Tom Watson takes on culture, media and sport. This is less of a horror show than it would have been opposing John Whittingdale, plus Watson knows his onions on the media, and is a keen videogamer. Rachael Maskell goes to Defra and Barbara Keely takes mental health, the new brief Corbyn introduced in his first reshuffle.

17:45: And with that, we’re gonna close the liveblog – happily for the leadership if not for our bottom line, they have been announcing posts in a very organised way, with a limited amount to riff off. Keep an eye on the NS for any big shocks. 

17:33: It’s that man again! Stephen here. People are getting excited that Cat Smith, currently shadow minister for young people and voter engagement, has removed the title from her Twitter biography.

At the risk of looking very, very stupid, I think it is highly unlikely that Smith, who worked for Corbyn prior to becoming an MP – and is married to Ben Soffa, his digital chief – has quit or has been sacked. (And by “highly unlikely”, if she is sacked, I will start to reconsider the question of whether the Moon landings were faked.) What’s more likely is that she will fill the critical job of Corbyn’s PPS, which is vacant now that Steve Rotheram has stepped down to spend more time with his mayoral bid.  

15:36: Stephen here. Hey, I was right about health going to a Corbynsceptic. It appears that Ashworth has been removed from the NEC, which had been coming – those posts are picked by the shadow cabinet, which, post-coup, is rather more Corbyn-friendly than it was before. By my maths, that makes the NEC narrowly pro-Corbyn again. 

15:28 Jon Ashworth has told the BBC he is shadow health secretary. At least half of the rumour is true!

13:04: Julia here. In the absence of concrete announcements, rumours have been swirling. Here are two I’ve spotted (listed in order of credibility).

1. Jon Ashworth could become shadow health secretary in return for giving up his seat on Labour’s decision-making body, the National Executive Committee.

But others say there is no way such a manoeuvre could take place.

2. Tony Blair is going to re-enter frontline politics

The former Labour prime minister did a series of interview with Esquire, and now social media is agog about the idea of a leadership challenge to Jeremy Corbyn by a genuine Blairite. Unfortunately for true believers, it seems that Blair’s own team is rather confused by this interpretation of events…

10:33: Stephen here. The word is, no appointments planned this morning, so we’ll resume in the afternoon!

09:42: Julia here. While we’re waiting for more news, here is a bit more about some of the more intriguing shadow cabinet members:

Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, is a loyal Corbyn ally – but also, let’s not forget, an experienced politician who has been an MP since 1987. Abbott has long defended immigration – her appointment suggests Labour will fight back hard on freedom of movement controls, despite the views of some in the parliamentary Labour party that it should take a much tougher stance altogether.

Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, is a former director of public prosecutions. He told me in July that he “rejected wholeheartedly” the idea of prioritising ideological purity over political power. He’s a good pick for Brexit negotiations, given his legal background and experience as a shadow immigration minister.

Nick Brown, chief whip, is the political equivalent of a bouncer, and a veteran of turbulent times – which is just as well, because many MPs are not happy that he has displaced the longstanding Rosie Winterton. You can read Stephen’s profile of him here.

Shami Chakrabarti, shadow attorney general, is, in addition to being the author of Labour’s controversial anti-Semitism report, a barrister and a longstanding campaigner for civil liberties. She rose to prominence for her criticism of New Labour’s authoritarian tendencies. Will she manage to bring the same coherence to a role combating the Conservatives? 

Clive Lewis, shadow business secretary, appears to have been shunted sideways because of his support for Britain’s nuclear deterrent, Trident. He had a bust up at conference over this – you can read Stephen’s account of it here. Lewis, seen by many as a future leader, is also a key advocate of a progressive alliance. He spoke to Anoosh about it here.

09:31: A lot of Labour activists are keen to know who will get shadow health. My doubtless-soon-to-be discredited guess is it will go to a Corbynsceptic. One Corbyn ally said that the reshuffle was like a “Jenga game” – you have politicians who have said they’ll come back, but asked that they be put in a job where they agree with the leader, so they can just keep quiet about the rest. (Jonathan Reynolds is a good example – mostly aligned with Corbyn and McDonnell on the economics, with his “Patriots Pay Tax” campaign as chair of Christians on the Left praised in the leader’s speech, there shouldn’t be many sources of unease between him and the leader’s office as shadow city minister) Health is a fairly easy brief as far as party unity is concerned, so expect it to go someone seeking to turn swords into ploughshares. 

09:27: Anyway, enough self-promotion, what about all the promotions? We’ve got more to come today, but what about that late-night move for Clive Lewis. 

There is a lively debate about whether it was a promotion or a demotion to move him from Defence to Business. My take – as readers of my morning email* will already know – is that it’s a bit of both. He has been moved to stop him freelancing on Trident policy, but being given a job in charge of telling business to treat its workers better and the government to spend more on infrastructure is a pretty good job for a young politician on the make. 

*I lied about the self-promotion being over. 

09:20: To those of you who are joining us from my morning email, apologies for the cut-off sentence in the Ukip item. The missing words were “joining the Conservative party”. To those of you don’t read my morning email, you can do so here. 

09:17: Morning! And welcome back to the reshuffle liveblog. 

22:27: Right, if anyone needs me, I’ll be watching the last few seconds of my youth slowing ticking away. Or repeats of House. Hard to say.

22:17: Gaby Hinsliff of the Pool points out that a move from defence to business would not traditionally be seen as a promotion, even though it’s a better brief to shadow in opposition. 


22:12: Angela Rayner serves up the sass:


22:08: Here’s George’s take on the Clive Lewis move. Mine is that it’s a shame, because Lewis is a good media performer, and has – in Ruth Davidson’s phrase – “worn the Queen’s uniform”, which is useful when rebutting those who want to paint Labour as white-flag-waving yellowbellies. I guess that the hope among backbenchers and unions that Corbyn didn’t fancy a showdown over the nuclear deterrent was premature.


22.05: Helen, wearily signing in. So, as I just suggested on Twitter, maybe Team Corbyn really like The Apprentice. Because there is MORE RESHUFFLE NEWS. Nia Griffith (anti Trident) has been moved to shadow defence, displacing Corbyn loyalist Clive Lewis (who put his foot down at conference, saying that Labour’s position was formally pro-Trident until otherwise stated). Clive Lewis goes to Business.

21:30: Helen signing out. In an act of perhaps unfathomable hubris, I’m going to take the last hour’s radio silence as proof that Corbyn’s office has remembered this time round that newspaper offices get noticeably emptier after 9pm, the big news bulletins are at 10pm, and livebloggers, like Gremlins, get nasty after if they eat after midnight. Stephen will be back tomorrow morning. Check 20:37 for the upsum.

21:15: Interesting observation from @mrdavidwhitley: “People berating Labour’s top team for lack of geographic diversity: Here’s the VERY DIVERSE Tory equivalent.”

That’s Amber Rudd (Rye), Theresa May (Maidenhead), Boris Johnson (Uxbridge) and Philip Hammond (Runnymede & Weybridge). 

20:59: Even the “irreconcilables” in the parliamentary Labour party are being pretty quiet tonight. A lot of suspiciously quiet Twitter feeds, although Jamie Reed and Simon Danczuk are having fun, at least:




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20:46: We’ve now moved to the “terrible pun” phase of the evening, so I’m guessing that’s it for tonight. Only a pedant would point out that 47 minutes ago, Labour sent out a press release saying that Jonathan Reynolds “joins ten MPs from the north of England who have already been appointed to our front bench”. Which makes eleven.

20:37: WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR: The only departure so far is shadow chief whip Rosie Winterton, replaced with Nick Brown. Diane Abbott goes to home, seems like Emily Thornberry stays at foreign, but loses the Brexit part of her job to Keir Starmer. Dawn Butler becomes BME communities minister, Sarah Champion is promoted to women and equalities (formerly part of Angela Rayner’s role, alongside education) and Shami Chakrabarti becomes shadow attorney general, as revealed by George last week.

20:35: On Rosie Winterton’s departure as chief whip, Kevin Schofield of Politics Home says this. “She turned up at the pre-arranged meeting in the leader’s office this afternoon expecting to continue negotiations on behalf of Labour MPs, who want to be given a say in the make-up of the leader’s frontbench team. But she was left stunned when Mr Corbyn told her she was being dumped from the post she has held for the past six years.”

20:28: What am I giving up to monitor this reshuffle, I hear you cry? Well, I’m only able to give half my attention to this Chris Packham programme where people are helicoptering mountain goats to new pastures. Apparently the goats are “130lb of pure muscle” and “can jump three and half feet in a single bound”. In other news, still no word on shadow health, the highest profile position still to fill. 

20:17: So the two developing themes of the reshuffle. First, the London-centric nature of the top jobs – perhaps not surprising, given Corbynism’s popularity in the capital. It also speaks to the emerging split in Labour politics between open/closed, or in cultural terms between “beer drinkers” and “wine drinkers”. London Labour MPs are more likely to be socially liberal “wine drinkers”. The second story is that surprising decision to oust Rosie Winterton as chief whip, which is causing grumbles from the PLP. Many are taking it as a sign that shadow cabinet elections, which Jeremy Corbyn was mulling as a peace offering, are doomed. (The reason it’s such a big deal is because of the PLP seats on the national executive committee, which interprets Labour’s rules.)

Anyway, here’s a nice picture of the new shadow cabinet:

20.13: By the way, the concert Stephen has gone to is playing the music from Final Fantasy. Just to reiterate that out of the two of us, he’s the dweebiest. 

20.10: Because I’m both a child and a massive pedant, can I point out that Jeremy Corbyn has come out here as a “proud Welshwoman”?


20:07: Team Corbyn really have game-planned this one better than last time. A press release has just gone out, pointing to the number of northerners in the shadow cabinet, just as everyone was beginning their thunderous tweets about the Norf London Mafia (Starmer, Thornberry, Abbott, Corbyn) taking over the party. 

20.03: Helen here! Keir Starmer is shadow Brexit secretary and Jonathan Reynolds is shadow economic secretary, in charge of City of London. 

19:42: Kate Musgrave asks if there is a reason why Team Corbyn has sharpened up its act as far as media management is concerned. (see 19:15) One thing that Corbyn’s aides believe has helped is the new “flat” structure, with Karie Murphy runing the office, Seumas Milne as communications overlord, Katy Clark as political secretary, Andrew Fisher as policy chief, and Simon Fletcher as campaigns head.

It was Milne who was the chief author of Corbyn’s attack on Rudd, which has genuinely brought the whole party together, albeit briefly, in condemnation of the move.

19:40: Someone else with a ruined evening is Lib Dem press officer Jasper Gerard, who has emailed a quote from Tim Farron. The Farronmeister says that Jeremy Corbyn has “sidelined” pro-Europeans in thr reshuffle, and his vow to “reach out” to his critics has lasted less than a week.

19:30: Simon Dowling asks if this reshuffle has ruined my evening plans. The good news is our deputy editor and my co-podcast host Helen Lewis will be taking charge at 8:00 so I can go to a concert with a friend.

The real victim is my friend, who instead of having dinner and a catch-up, is having “dinner with a mute, his phone and his laptop”.

19:15: One thing that is noteworthy is that Team Corbyn has remembered previous criticism that the front bench is too male by announcing its promotions for women early and making noise about its BME representation. They are getting noticably sharper at their media management.

19:08: Dawn Butler has been appointed shadow minister for black and minority ethnic communities, meaning that the Labour front bench now has five BME MPs, a record. 

19:02: Adam Widish has weighed in on the Nick Brown question (see 18:20). Brown is the first as there wasn’t a second. He could be the first and third but not first, second and third. Feels about right to me.

18:56: Vernon Coaker is likely to return as Shadow Northern Ireland. It makes sense – although Coaker is no friend of Corbyn, the leader’s office respected him and, crucially, he is admired by Northern Ireland’s politicians at a time when that part of the world is under strain in the aftermath of Brexit. 

18:49: John Healey is a “dead cert” to return to the shadow cabinet, George hears.

18:35: Corbynsceptics are their own worst enemy* sometimes. See their complaints that the shadow cabinet is London-dominated. This is true, because most MPs outside London are refusing to serve under Corbyn. Yes, that’s because many take the view they would look like doughnuts if they pretended they thought everything was going well, and in my view, they are right. But it doesn’t change the fact they are, in members’ minds, complaining about a problem they made.

*That and Len McCluskey, I guess.

18:24: I’m told there are more announcements to come tonight. 

18:20: Metaphysical question for you – is Nick Brown merely the first openly LGBT whip, or the first, second and third? Jonn points out that Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th American President. Email and tweet me, etc. 

18:12: With Ed, that role was usually filled by Yvette Cooper, who is highly unlikely to return to the shadow cabinet. 

18:07: As I’ve written before, this shadow cabinet is likely to be very male, as although the average female member of the PLP is slightly to the left of the average bloke, the women of the PLP are more reluctant to return. This feels like an Ed Miliband reshuffle – get your women announced early, protecting you against a backlash about a bunch of men later. (Despite frequent promises, Ed never hit the 50/50 target he pledged in the 2010 leadership race.) 

18:05: It means that, for the first time in Labour’s history, two of the four great offices of state will be shadowed by women. It brings them level with the Tories, who currently have two as well, in the shape of Theresa May and Amber Rudd. 

18:02: George is pleased, having being first to tip Chakrabarti to the post last week. That means that Richard Burgon will likely remain as Shadow Justice Secretary, though don’t rule out a return for Charlie Falconer. 

18:00: NEWS! Diane Abbott is confirmed as Shadow Home Secretary. Shami Chakrabarti is confirmed as Shadow Attorney General, which she’ll represent from the Lords. Jo Stevens is appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Wales. Sarah Champion is appointed Women and Equalities, and will attend the shadow cabinet. 

17:49: George is hearing that Emily Thornberry may lose the Brexit brief. She is keen to shadow both that and the Foreign Secretary, but “others” are pushing for it to be split. 

17:45: Behind the scenes, the Brown appointment is likely to signal continuity rather than change. Luke Sullivan, Winterton’s respected aide, worked for Brown when he was chief whip and will likely make the same shift again. But there is one important shift – Brown is opposed to renewing the Trident missile, and know Jeremy well from his rebellions on the issue. I’m told that Corbyn used to write little notes to Brown when he was planning to rebel (ie. most of the time). 

17:40: He also has experience of plotting coups from his time after being sacked as Chief Whip by Tony Blair in 1998, so we’re in proper poacher-turned-gamekeeper-turned-poacher-turned-gamekeeper territory here. 

17:37: The appointment of Brown is interesting. He, like Winterton, is closely affliated to Labour’s old right – he voted for Yvette Cooper and Tom Watson in 2015 – and has experience of seeing off coups from his time as Gordon Brown’s chief whip from 2008 to 2010. 

17:31: It’s heavily rumoured that Diane Abbott will be promoted from shadow health to shadow home secretary. It makes sense; Abbott is Corbyn’s closest ally in Parliament and most importantly, is attuned to the leadership on migration. 

17:26: Hi there! Jeremy Corbyn has sacked Rosie Winterton as Chief Whip, replacing her with Nick Brown. All the latest as we get it.