NEWS

Jeremy Corbyn 'Didn't Engage' In Efforts To Reunite Labour Before Reshuffle, PLP Chair John Cryer Says

The backlash begins.

07/10/2016 21:08
Matt Crossick/Matt Crossick

Jeremy Corbyn failed to “engage in any constructive way” with efforts to reunite Labour before his reshuffle, the chair of the party’s backbench MPs has said.

Corbyn commenced a reshuffle that ended on Friday, re-arranging his frontbench after his resounding re-election as leader.

John Cryer, who chairs the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), said he and now-sacked chief whip Rosie Winterton were kept in the dark about this during talks that were being held after MPs voted earlier to have at least part of the shadow cabinet position elected by the PLP rather than selected by Corbyn.

He said he and Winterton were “genuinely hopeful” they could “could get to an agreement which would have the chance of drawing the PLP together so that we could go forward in a more unified manner than has hitherto been the case”.

As the reshuffle was completed on Friday, Cryer emailed MPs, saying it was “neither discussed nor mentioned” during the talks between himself, the leadership team and Winterton.

Her shock sacking marked the beginning of the reshuffle on Thursday.

Cryer’s email was the first and biggest backlash to the reshuffle.

“As far as Rosie and I were concerned the talks were held in good faith with the aim of striking an agreement which would allow some places to be filled through elections while the leader would retain the right to appoint others,” he wrote.

“It became clear on Wednesday that a reshuffle was under way, which had not been discussed or mentioned.

“It now seems to me that the party’s leadership did not engage in the talks in any constructive way.

“Obviously, I deeply regret this turn of events. As ever, if colleagues wish to raise any issues with me feel free to get in touch.”

 John Cryer’s email in full:

Dear Colleague,

As you will be very much aware, at the beginning of September the PLP voted overwhelmingly for the return of elections to the Shadow Cabinet.

This has never implied that the entire Shadow Cabinet should be elected; neither the PLP or the Parliamentary Committee were prescriptive in that regard.

This led to negotiations involving myself and the then chief whip, Rosie Winterton, and people from the leadership team.

As far as Rosie and I were concerned the talks were held in good faith with the aim of striking an agreement which would allow some places to be filled through elections while the leader would retain the right to appoint others.

We held a number of meetings, most recently during Labour conference, and were genuinely hopeful that we could get to an agreement which would have the chance of drawing the PLP together so that we could go forward in a more unified manner than has hitherto been the case. Rosie and I were keen to continue these negotiations this week and tried to arrange meetings with the leader’s office to come to an agreement as soon as possible.

However, it became clear on Wednesday that a reshuffle was under way, which had not been discussed or mentioned.

It now seems to me that the party’s leadership did not engage in the talks in any constructive way.

Obviously, I deeply regret this turn of events. As ever, if colleagues wish to raise any issues with me feel free to get in touch.

Best wishes,

John Cryer

Yui Mok/PA Wire
John Cryer (kneeling left, pictured with party general secretary Iain McNicol, right)

Corbyn made Diane Abbott his new Shadow Home Secretary, replacing the outgoing Andy Burnham. 

Shami Chakrabarti will be the new Shadow Attorney General. Keir Starmer has been appointed Shadow Brexit Secretary.

In a further display of his authority, Corbyn moved Clive Lewis - his pro-Trident Shadow Defence Secretary - to Shadow Business. He was replaced by anti-Trident Nia Griffiths.

Sarah Champion is the new Shadow Women and Equalities Minister and Jo Stevens the Shadow Welsh Secretary.

Dawn Butler was given the newly-created post of Shadow Black and Minority Ethnic Communities Minister. Jon Trickett becomes the new Shadow Commons Leader.

The five most senior posts in Labour - leader, Shadow Chancellor, Shadow Foreign Secretary, Shadow Brexit Secretary and Shadow Home Secretary - are all from London constituencies.

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