David Cameron sought to capitalise on the Labour in-fighting at Prime Minister’s questions by goading the moderate frontbenchers – including Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn – who have opted to continue to serve on Mr Corbyn’s frontbench. Ms Eagle was shifted sideways to succeed Michael Dugher, who was sacked as shadow Culture Secretary.
It followed a series of humiliations including the policy disagreements with key members of his shadow cabinet team who lined up to contradict him publicly over both use of a nuclear deterrent or shoot-to-kill in a Paris massacre situation.
Lindsey German – convener of Stop the War Coalition – slammed the MP after he stepped down from his role as Shadow Rail Minister on Wednesday morning, citing concerns over the removal of fellow MP Pat McFadden from the frontbench during the prolonged cabinet reshuffle.
Former mayor of London Ken Livingstone – who is jointly heading a Labour defence policy review and was heavily criticised after suggesting Mr Jones needed to see a psychiatrist – rejected suggestions the leader was not in a position to demand loyalty after being a serial rebel under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
He was unable to sack Hilary Benn as Shadow Foreign Secretary. The change is significant because Eagle’s replacement, member of parliament Emily Thornberry, is not an advocate for renewing Britain’s nuclear deterrent, Trident, while Eagle is in favour of retaining it.
He said there had been “nothing straightforward or honest” about the reshuffle.
“The people who are running the Labour Party, I’m afraid, are not doing so in a manner that is likely to put us anywhere near being able to be a credible force at the next election”, he said.
“It is his prerogative to decide his front-bench team and I will continue to support and work for Labour in any way I can”.
“I understand your need for a greater degree of discipline on the front bench and therefore believe it would be more appropriate to advocate these causes as a backbencher”.
A senior Labour source denied the reshuffle marked the end of Mr Corbyn’s “new politics”, arguing the length of time it took was a reflection of the leader’s “desire to engage in a genuine debate” and “consult widely” before making appointments. “But they do all come from a sort of narrow rightwing clique within the Labour party”.
Labour MP Ian Austin summed up the reshuffle as Dugher being sacked “for calling for unity”, McFadden “for criticising IS” and Eagle “moved for backing party policy”. “Within Progress itself, there are some who are quite hard right, and I think they’ve never accepted Jeremy’s leadership”.
He added: “Corbyn-Victory deniers in uber rant”.
An ally of Mr Corbyn accused centrist MPs of conducting a “deliberate” and “co-ordinated” effort to undermine the leadership by “lying” about the reasons for Mr McFadden’s sacking.
His sacking last night was said by senior Labour sources to reflect his “incompetence and disloyalty”.
But Mr Jones said that was not true and that she had been moved from the defence brief against her will.
Despite the controversy Miss Thornberry defended Leigh Day as an “outstanding firm of solicitors” and said it was not up to lawyers to decide “whether or not what their clients were saying was correct”. I have no idea what has happened or what these allegations are.
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