Jeremy Corbyn will be left with a "politburo of seven" if he moves against senior critics in Labour, a shadow cabinet member has said amid speculation that the leader will dramatically shake up his top team.
Michael Dugher, whose job as shadow culture secretary is reportedly at risk, insisted Labour is a "broad church not a religious cult" and warned Mr Corbyn that a big reshuffle would be inconsistent with his calls for debate in the party, the Press Association reports.
Mr Dugher is one of several senior figures reportedly under threat in a so-called "revenge reshuffle" alongside shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn, who backed bombing Islamic State (IS) in Syria, and shadow defence secretary Maria Eagle, who supports the renewal of Trident nuclear weapons, both in opposition to Mr Corbyn.
A shadow cabinet reshuffle would reduce the risk of the leader and his frontbenchers speaking from opposing viewpoints, but could trigger a wave of resignations.
Sacking Mr Dugher, who also voted for bombing in Syria, could anger his senior allies such as deputy leader Tom Watson and shadow home secretary Andy Burnham.
Responding to the reports, the shadow culture secretary called for unity ahead of May's local elections and said he thought Mr Corbyn would be reluctant to carry out a big reshuffle.
Mr Dugher told Pienaar's Politics on BBC Radio Five Live: "I think if you believe the Sunday papers then you're going to be left with a shadow cabinet, a sort of politburo of seven or something.
"I mean frankly if you listen to John McDonnell this week, he was saying exactly the same things that I've been saying this week, as Jonathan Ashworth, Lilian Greenwood and others about the fact the party needs to come together, we need unity and we need to have the focus on the Tories not ourselves.
"I think that's really what we need as Parliament comes back next week."
Mr Dugher stressed that the shadow cabinet was appointed four months ago amid Mr Corbyn's calls for "a new politics" and debates within the party and so a move to remove critics or those with different views would be inconsistent.
He said: "Reshuffles are a matter for the leadership.
"In my experience having worked closely with previous leaders, there's a reason why they tend to be a bit reluctant to go down the path of big reshuffles and that's because they do try and hold the party together, they do recognise that the Labour Party is a broad church not a religious cult, that you need people of different backgrounds and try and get the best possible talents.
"Ultimately that will be a decision for Jeremy."
Mr Dugher added: "In truth, I don't see it happening and the reason why I don't see it happening is because I think it would be inconsistent with what Jeremy has talked about since he got the leadership, which is about room for a little dissent, about having debates."Suggest a correction