Corbyn completes Labour reshuffle with culture post for Watson

Deputy who tried to force Corbyn out of leadership becomes shadow culture secretary

Labour leader  Jeremy Corbyn and Tom Watson at the recent party conference. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Tom Watson at the recent party conference. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

 

Jeremy Corbyn has completed his reshaping of Labour’s top team by appointing his deputy, and critic, Tom Watson as shadow culture secretary.

Mr Watson led a failed attempt to get Mr Corbyn to exit the leadership without an election after the mass shadow cabinet walkout in June.

The final line-up sees key Corbyn allies John McDonnell and Emily Thornberry retain their posts as shadow chancellor and shadow foreign secretary, respectively.

This means that with Diane Abbott shadowing the home office brief, the three top posts are held by Corbyn loyalists.

There was said to be unhappiness among Labour MPs at the promotion of Mr Corbyn’s long-time ally Ms Abbott to such a prominent post, and the sacking of chief whip Rosie Winterton, seen as a key link with the backbenches.

Clive Lewis was moved from the defence portfolio to become shadow business secretary following the controversy which erupted at last week’s Labour Party conference when the leader’s office doctored the ex-soldier’s speech on Trident at the last minute.

Jon Ashworth, one of the few remaining moderates in the shadow cabinet, was promoted to shadow health secretary, but has lost his place on the party’s ruling National Executive Committee, which has been split almost evenly between pro and anti-Corbyn members.

However, the elevation of Mr Ashworth to a key post will be seen as an olive branch to the moderates after criticism that earlier appointments strengthened Mr Corbyn’s allies on the left.

Former whip Tom Blenkinsop accused Mr Corbyn of rowing back on his promise to unite the party. He tweeted: “Clear Corbyn wants submission not unity. Ignoring wishes of the PLP and just sacking and appointing regardless.”

Mr Corbyn said: “Following my re-election as leader of the Labour Party I have made a number of new appointments to Labour’s shadow cabinet. For the first time, two of the three ‘great offices of state’ are shadowed by women. Once again the shadow cabinet has a majority of women, and has more black and minority ethnic appointees than any shadow cabinet or cabinet ever.

“I have acted to bring together a strong and diverse opposition leadership team. Our aim is to deliver what millions of people are demanding: a Labour Party focused on holding this divisive government to account and winning the next general election.”

Mr Watson said: “I’m looking forward to working with Jeremy to develop Labour’s policy on introducing the arts pupil premium to every child of primary school age.

“There should be no class ceiling placed on anyone who wants to contribute to or enjoy our artistic, musical and sporting heritage. I also want our globally successful games industry to be given the recognition it deserves.”

PA