Jeremy Corbyn reshuffle: Labour leader accused of opening up north-south divide in the party

Two shadow ministers who quit in protest at Jeremy Corbyn's reshuffle warn that his Shadow Cabinet is becoming 'too London centric'

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Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of opening up a north-south divide in the Labour party by neglecting northern MPs in his Shadow Cabinet and promoting London-based MPs. 

Two shadow ministers who resigned in protest at the Labour leader's decision to sack Pat McFadden and Michael Dugher said there was a danger that the frontbench was becoming "too London centric". 

Kevan Jones, who quit as a shadow defence minister, said voters will "look on in dismay" at the decision by Mr Corbyn to install his north London constituency neighbour Emily Thornberry as Shadow Defence Secretary.

"Our defence policy is being controlled by a north London party of the party," he told the BBC. 

Mr Corbyn sacked Mr McFadden, a Scotsman who represents Wolverhampton South East, and Mr Dugher, a South Yorkshireman who represents Barnsley East. 

Mr Reynolds, MP for the Greater Manchester constituency of Stalybridge and Hyde, said: “I think there is a danger that we might become too London centric – that’s a regular complaint from Labour party members in my area - not just limited to Jeremy’s administration, I can say that’s a regular complaint that comes up. 

“But clearly the frontbench is geographically a little bit unbalanced now I would say in the Shadow Cabinet and it’s something we need to watch out for. 

“I very much agree with the Howard Wilson school of building a Shadow Cabinet or a Cabinet – you need to make sure you’re balancing not just politics but gender, geography, to make sure you’re getting that balanced so the nation looks at Labour and says ‘these people understand my life and they are the right people for me; I want them to be the government for the country.” 

Mr Corbyn was also accused of neglecting working class Labour MPs with the sacking of Mr Dugher and Mr McFadden. 

Responding to the news that Mr Dugher had been sacked, Labour MP Graham Jones took to Twitter to complain that "traditional working class Labour is dying". 

Meanwhile the Labour leader also came under fire for his appointment of Guardian journalist Seumas Milne as his director of strategy and communications. 

Ian Austin branded him an "absolute disgrace" and described the reshuffle as "an absolute shambles". He said Mr Milne's approach to managing the media was "extraordinary". 

“I’ve been involved in reshuffles the last 20 years, this is the worst handled and most botched reshuffle I’ve ever seen,” the Dudley MP told BBC News.

“[In] the weeks before … you had people in the leader’s office, I’m told by journalists, Seumas Milne, telling us that Hilary Benn was going to be sacked, that Michael Dugher was going to be sacked, a whole long list of people, not for questions of competence or loyalty but because they voted a different way on a free vote.

“I wouldn’t have appointed somebody with his views and his background to a senior position in the Labour party in the first place but I think his behaviour over the last few weeks has been an absolute disgrace."

Fellow Labour MP John Mann also criticised Mr Milne: 

A spokesperson for Mr Corbyn however said: “Seumas Milne is doing his job in the normal way, as is everyone else.”

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