Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

Will Jeremy Corbyn’s reshuffle ever end?

Pity the poor correspondents who set up a reshuffle ‘live’ blog to cover Jeremy Corbyn moving around his frontbench team last Monday. The Labour leader has, a week and a half in to the slowest shuffle ever, just made a few more appointments. Imran Hussain, Kate Osamor and Thangam Debbonaire are all new MPs, and join the International Development, Women and Equalities and Culture, Media and Sport teams respectively. Last night Jo Stevens, also a new MP, became Shadow Solicitor General.

When will it end? To be fair to the Labour leader, the reshuffle has dragged on partly because people keep resigning, so it’s not entirely his fault that he seems to be taking until 2020 to finalise his top team. And this has led some to wonder whether there are co-ordinated waves of resignations from junior ministers designed to keep Corbyn from ever fully settling down into his job as Opposition Leader, instead forcing him to work out who on earth he can appoint to a junior ministerial brief that has suddenly become vacant.

From my conversations with Labour MPs, things aren’t quite as well-co-ordinated as this, though. It is not so much that there is a taxi rank of junior frontbenchers lined up to resign over the next few weeks, but that some are thinking things through and wondering what the benefit is of slogging their guts out in a shadow job when they could be spending more time with their family or doing constituency work and campaigning so that they don’t lose their seat in 2020.

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But if more MPs choose to step back from shadow ministerial roles, then Corbyn’s allies will start suspecting that a campaign is being directed against him. And it would be a reasonably effective way of distracting the Labour leader – and of keeping those ‘live’ blogs plodding on for months.


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