Jeremy Corbyn has sparked confusion after posing with a sign pleading to “bring back the shadow cabinet minister for mental health”.
There were clamours of surprise when the Labour leader was snapped holding the sign some two months after abolishing the post.
Its former founding holder, Luciana Berger, resigned as part of a mass exodus of shadow cabinet members in June. Weeks later, Corbyn scrapped the post, “subsuming” it into the shadow health secretary brief, led by Diane Abbott.
At the time, Labour MPs decried the move. John Woodcock, who has previously spoken about his own struggle with depression, labelled the leader’s decision to “axe” the post “deeply disappointing”.
Which is why many were left bemused at the photo, taken by the Guardian’s Peter Walker, that emerged of Corbyn today.
Sky News’ Darren McCaffrey questioned whether the stunt was “a bad joke”.
While others described it as “surreal” and accused Corbyn of “protesting against his own leadership”.
Even the Liberal Democrats press office - which has been busy issuing jibes at Corbyn all week - got in on the joke.
Corbyn appeared holding the sign at Labour’s Autumn party conference, two days after being re-elected leader in a landslide victory following a challenge from Pontypridd MP Owen Smith.
Asked in July about Corbyn’s decision to abolish a separate brief for mental health, a Labour spokesperson said: “The improvement of mental health services remains a crucial issue and Jeremy has asked the new shadow Secretary of State for health to put it at the forefront of her responsibilities.”
A Labour source added to HuffPost UK on Monday that, having created the shadow mental health post, “of course he hopes to bring it back”.