Labour reshuffle: Pat McFadden sacked as shadow Europe minister over 'disloyalty' to Jeremy Corbyn, party sources claim

MP for Barnsley East claims he was sacked after speaking up for colleagues who had been 'trashed' by members of the party leader's team

Henry Austin
Wednesday 06 January 2016 01:10
Pat McFadden has been sacked as shadow Europe minister over "disloyalty" to leader Jeremy Corbyn
Pat McFadden has been sacked as shadow Europe minister over "disloyalty" to leader Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn has sacked two senior figures for "disloyalty" and installed a Trident opponent in the key shadow defence brief as he sought to get a grip on his top team.

After more than 30 hours of apparently bitter reshuffle wrangling, the Labour leader stopped short of dismissing shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn.

But he added Europe spokesman Pat McFadden to the casualty list alongside shadow culture secretary Michael Dugher.

Maria Eagle is being shifted from shadow defence secretary to replace Mr Dugher, having been seen as blocking Mr Corbyn's desire to oppose renewal of the UK's nuclear deterrent.

Her berth is taken by Emily Thornberry, who is in line with the leader on Trident.

Installing Mrs Thornberry as defence secretary was seen as crucial with a key Commons vote on renewing Trident due soon.

Mr Corbyn could otherwise have again found himself at loggerheads with the shadow minister supposed to be presenting the party's position in Parliament.

A source said Ms Eagle - who had clashed with former London mayor Ken Livingstone over a defence policy review they were jointly overseeing - had been keen to take on the culture brief.

Mr McFadden's sacking follows that of Michael Dugher, who was removed from his position as shadow Culture Secretary.

The MP for Barnsley East, who ran Andy Burnham's failed leadership campaign, claimed he had been sacked after speaking up for colleagues who had been "trashed" by members of the Labour leader's team.

"I decided to speak out a number of days ago because what we've seen in recent weeks is a number of good hardworking loyal members of the shadow Cabinet being systematically trashed, in terms of their reputations, in their newspapers by people in the employment of Jeremy Corbyn,” he told the BBC.

McFadden, the MP for Wolverhampton, had admitted that he wasn’t sure if he’d keep his own job in any reshuffle.

Warning that using the Syria vote for a ‘revenge reshuffle’ would be “a risk” and “a danger” for Mr Corbyn himself, he told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour that shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn had expressed his own opinion during a free vote on Syria.

"If it's about political disagreement, I think you have to pause here - especially if it's about the Syria vote that took place last month because this was on a one-line whip, it was not on a three-line whip,” he said.

"If you look at Jeremy Corbyn's own record, his whole career is based on disagreeing with party leaders so I think there is a danger for him in this, in carrying out a reshuffle as a sort of punishment for shadow ministers who’ve disagreed with him,” he added.

He also insisted Mr Benn and shadow defence minister Maria Eagle had “no questions about their competence to be shadow ministers.”

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