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6 October 2016

Jeremy Corbyn rewards loyalists in confident reshuffle

Diane Abbott is promoted, while Rosie Winterton is out as chief whip.

By Stephen Bush

Jeremy Corbyn has promoted loyalists in a a reshuffle that has stamped his authority on the shadow cabinet. 

The reshuffle began with the sacking of Rosie Winterton, who served as Chief Whip throughout the Ed Miliband years, and replacing her with Nick Brown, who was Tony Blair’s first chief whip and Gordon Brown’s last, serving first from 1997 to 1998 and then again from 2008 to 2010. Diane Abbott, Corbyn’s closest political ally, was promoted from shadow health to the shadow home brief. Clive Lewis was moved from shadow defence to the business, energy and industrial strategy portfolio, in a move that signals there will be no softening of the leadership’s opposition to Trident. He is replaced by Nia Griffith, a committed opponent of Trident. 

The appointment of Brown, an experienced Labour fixer, is a coup for Corbyn. Brown has experience of seeing off threats to his leader, seeing off two serious attempts to remove Gordon Brown while serving as chief whip. But that Brown, who is closely affliated with Labour’s old right – he backed Yvette Cooper and Tom Watson in the 2015 leadership and deputy leadership races – is in place will also reassure nervous MPs that Corbyn’s second leadership phase will be unlikely to attempt a wholesale purge of dissident MPs. However, that Brown is an opponent of Trident will further bolster Corbyn on a crucial policy area.