Jeremy Corbyn's reshuffle continues with hunt for 'willing bag carriers'

Labour leader spent two days trying to remould his Shadow Cabinet last month after reports he was planning to oust those who had defied him

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Indy Politics

Jeremy Corbyn’s reshuffle, ridiculed by David Cameron as “clearly the longest” in history, is, in fact, still going on. 

The Labour leader spent two days trying to remould his Shadow Cabinet last month after weeks of reports that he was planning to oust those who had defied him. He sacked the shadow Culture Secretary, Michael Dugher, and moved Maria Eagle from Defence to Culture because she is in favour of renewing the UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent, which Mr Corbyn opposes. 

But he backed down from demoting Hilary Benn, the shadow Foreign Secretary, who embarrassed Mr Corbyn by supporting the Government on air strikes in Syria. Three frontbenchers also quit in anger over the sacking of the popular shadow Europe minister Pat McFadden, further prolonging the reshuffle. 

The changes prompted a rejig among more junior shadow ministerial jobs and this has left vacancies among the parliamentary private secretaries (PPSs). A full list of PPSs is usually distributed shortly after a reshuffle, but Labour has yet to issue this.

This is because Diane Abbott, shadow International Development Secretary, and Jon Trickett, shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, have not yet appointed PPSs. John McDonnell, the shadow Chancellor, only appointed his PPS, Naz Shah, last week. 

All three shadow ministers are close allies of Mr Corbyn and are among the few who both nominated him for the leadership and went on to vote for him. 

A senior Labour source pointed out that Mr Corbyn has made many left-leaning MPs from the 2015 intake shadow ministers because of a lack of supporters among longer-serving parliamentarians. This has made it hard to find supportive backbenchers to be “willing bag carriers”. 

Lisa Nandy, the shadow Energy Secretary, is also looking for a PPS, but this is to replace Harry Harpham, who died from cancer, aged 61, earlier this month. 

Mr Corbyn could also choose to have a second PPS, like his predecessor Ed Miliband, to work alongside Steve Rotheram.

“Appointments will be made shortly, ” said a spokeswoman.