Jeremy Corbyn is expected to announce the results of his reshuffle today, after keeping everyone in suspense with hours of secret talks yesterday in his office. His ‘even reshuffle’ is being served rather cold, and its ingredients are being kept a mystery. The Labour leader is believed to be going for a less fearsome set of changes than those briefed over Christmas, possibly even keeping Hilary Benn in his job. Though the rumour is that Maria Eagle all remain on the frontbench, but leave the Defence brief.
This is all speculation, based partly on behind-the-scenes conversations about the dynamics in Corbyn’s own team (some of his aides believe he should go for a big clear out and bring in his own people, while others are worried that such an extensive reshuffle would make Labour look a laughing stock) and partly on assessments of who was smiling when they left the Labour leader’s office (and whether they tend to smile much anyway: a number of Labourites pointed out that Maria Eagle leaving Corbyn’s office looking serious might not mean as much as some thought).
But what would the effect of a more modest reshuffle be? It would be a signal that Corbyn doesn’t personally want a huge rift with his parliamentary party, even if some in his team do. It would mean the Labour leader’s supporters in the parliamentary party feel a little less powerful, too. And it would mean that Labour will still have two positions on big issues, given Trident and Syria aren’t the only issues on which Corbyn has significant differences with his top team.