It was always obvious from the moment he won that Jeremy Corbyn’s frontbench team would look very different to the one that Labour had last week. What’s more surprising than those stepping back from the Shadow Cabinet, including Chuka Umunna, is who from a different wing of the party to Corbyn agrees to take a frontbench role.
Angela Eagle and Andy Burnham are the biggest names likely to work in Corbyn’s team, though Corbyn is struggling with John McDonnell, who wants to be Shadow Chancellor instead of Eagle. Rosie Winterton remains as chief whip: which is a huge boost to Corbyn given how popular she is in the party. Umunna left after what he called a ‘good discussion’ in which the pair ‘agreed I can more effectively support his leadership from the backbenches’. Ivan Lewis offered to stay on as Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary until the current crisis is over, bur Corbyn decided he wanted a long-term appointment now. He will need someone in his Shadow Business brief, given tomorrow sees the second reading of the controversial Trade Union Bill in the Commons.
But what will also be interesting is whether Corbyn manages to assemble full departmental teams shadowing all portfolios. It looks unlikely, given the number of MPs who have said they won’t serve under his leadership. Chances are that a good number of newly elected MPs will get frontbench jobs just months after coming into parliament - but even then the teams of shadow ministers of state and shadow parliamentary under-secretaries are likely to be rather smaller than the government ones that they shadow.