Jeremy Corbyn under pressure amid continuing resignations

Labour Party in turmoil as succession of shadow cabinet members abandon leader

The leader of Britain’s opposition Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, leaves his home in London. Photograph: Reuters

The leader of Britain’s opposition Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, leaves his home in London. Photograph: Reuters


Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn faces a full-scale insurrection within his front bench after he sacked shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn for plotting to overthrow him.

A succession of shadow cabinet figures have resigned and Mr Corbyn cancelled a meeting of the shadow front bench for Monday.

MPs will on Monday introduce a motion of no confidence in their leader, which is expected to win the support of up to eight out of 10 in the parliamentary party. After that, Mr Corbyn is likely to face a formal leadership contest if a challenger wins the support of more than 20 per cent of MPs and MEPs.

As one shadow minister after another announced they no longer had confidence in their leader, Mr Corbyn’s allies insisted that he retained the confidence of the broader party membership which elected him last year.

On Sunday evening, however, the party leader’s hopes of survival received a blow when deputy leader Tom Watson stopped short of expressing confidence in Mr Corbyn.

“I was deeply disappointed to see Hilary Benn sacked in the early hours of this morning and equally saddened that so many talented, able and hard-working colleagues felt they had to leave the shadow cabinet,” Mr Watson said.


Hilary Benn

The shadow foreign secretary was sacked in a 1am phone call on Sunday after making clear that he had lost faith in Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. The son of Corbyn’s former mentor, Tony Benn, his card had been marked as a potential threat by the leader’s office after intervening in last December’s parliamentary debate on whether to launch airstrikes against Syria.

Heidi Alexander

The shadow health secretary gained fans within the party for mastering the health brief and holding Jeremy Hunt to account. As MP for Lewisham East, she backed Andy Burnham to be leader last year and emailed activists during the campaign to say that Corbyn’s election “would cause division within the party”.

Gloria De Piero

The MP for Ashfield and former GMTV presenter was a surprise member of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet given that she is a member of the Blairite pressure group Progress. The shadow minister for young people and voter registration is seen as a prized asset by the party because she is a working class woman who cuts through to its traditional core voters in northern constituencies.

Ian Murray

The Scottish secretary was seen as impossible to sack because he is Labour’s only surviving MP following the 2015 rout of Scottish Labour by the SNP. Murray, 39, is a party moderate who has attempted to work with Corbyn. Colleagues say he has become increasingly vocal in shadow cabinet meetings about Corbyn’s alleged inability to lead a campaign.

Lilian Greenwood

The shadow secretary for transport took up the job in 2011 under Ed Miliband. Closely associated with Unison, the MP for Nottingham South is one of a group of union-backed frontbenchers who believe that Corbyn cannot carry on as leader.

Lucy Powell

The shadow education secretary ran Ed Miliband’s successful campaign to become Labour leader. The MP for Manchester Central is the daughter of a social worker and a headteacher, and was born and bred in Manchester. Powell disclosed in September that she had not spoken to Corbyn during her previous three years in parliament. She was one of a handful of party centrists who received promotions under his leadership last year.

Kerry McCarthy

The shadow environment secretary was once seen as a Gordon Brown loyalist and supported Ed Balls against Ed Miliband in their leadership battle. The MP for Bristol East was said to be unhappy with Corbyn’s plans to scrap Trident and has expressed concerns about Corbyn’s lack of leadership to friends.

Seema Malhotra

The shadow chief secretary to the Treasury had previously remained loyal to Corbyn despite being understood to have had some personal misgivings with his ability to lead and his economic policies. The MP for Feltham and Heston is a former adviser to Corbyn critics Liam Byrne and Ian Austin.

Vernon Coaker

The shadow Northern Ireland secretary has struggled with serving in Corbyn’s team. The veteran MP for Gedling, who was a former policing minister and government whip, has told journalists that he felt obliged to join the shadow cabinet under Corbyn so that he could argue from the so-called “centre” of the party. His appointment to the role went some way to allay suspicions from unionists that Corbyn and the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, would only want to work closely with Sinn Féin.

Lord Falconer

Charles Falconer, the shadow justice secretary and former close associate of Tony Blair, was an incongruous fit with Corbyn. In September, he upset Corbyn supporters by disagreeing with the Labour leader’s plan to strip the Bank of England of its independence, dismissed claims that the Iraq war was illegal and dismissed comments made by John McDonnell that the IRA should be honoured. In January, he publicly disagreed with the decision to sack the Europe minister, Pat McFadden.

Karl Turner

The shadow attorney general was appointed to the role in January 2016. The MP for Kingston upon Hull East replaced John Prescott in the seat in 2010 and has rarely rebelled against party policy, according to the website He is the second MP to resign from the position over Corbyn’s leadership within the space of six months. He stepped up to replace Catherine McKinnell, who quit the job in January complaining of Labour’s “increasingly negative path”.

Chris Bryant

Chris Bryant was never a key Corbyn ally, though that did not stop him standing up for his party leader in the House of Commons. He was shadow culture secretary and turned down the defence brief over what he called major policy differences, ending up with a demotion to shadow leader of the Commons.

Lisa Nandy

The MP for Wigan since 2010 has resigned as shadow secretary of state for energy and climate change. She is seen as being on the left wing of the party, where Corbyn’s more natural allies are.

Owen Smith

Smith has been MP for Pontypridd since 2010 and was formerly a BBC radio producer. He has resigned as shadow secretary of state for work and pensions and called – with Nandy – for Tom Watson to be caretaker leader.

Angela Eagle

The MP for Wallasey is chair of Labour’s National Policy Forum, and has resigned as shadow business secretary and shadow first secretary of state. She was minister of state for pensions and ageing in the last Labour government.

John Healey

The former trade union and charity campaigner has been the MP for Wentworth and Dearne since 1997. He has resigned as shadow minister of state for housing and planning.

Nia Griffith

The Welsh Labour politician has resigned as shadow Welsh secretary after serving in the role for nine months. Griffith has been MP for Llanelli since 2005. She was born in Dublin and her family is from south Wales. Before entering parliament she worked as a teacher.

Maria Eagle

The MP for Garston and Halewood has resigned as shadow secretary of state for culture, media and sport. In the last Labour government she was a minister of state for both the qualities office and the ministry of justice.

Kate Green

The MP for Stretford & Urmston has resigned as shadow minister for women and equalities.


Diana Johnson has resigned as a shadow foreign minister.

Anna Turley as shadow minister for civil society.

Toby Perkins has resigned as shadow armed forces minister saying that the Labour party “needs a change at the top’’.

Yvonne Fovargue resigned from the frontbench as shadow minister for consumer affairs and science.

Alex Cunningham resigned as shadow minister for the natural environment.

Steve Reed resigned as a shadow local government minister.

Roberta Blackman-Woods resigned as a shadow housing minister.

Wayne David resigned as a shadow minister covering the Cabinet Office, Scotland and justice.

Jenny Chapman, has resigned as shadow childcare and early years minister

Stephen Kinnock resigned as parliamentary private secretary to Angela Eagle, the shadow secretary of state and shadow business secretary.

Karin Smyth resigned as parliamentary private secretary to Heidi Alexander.

Ruth Smeeth resigned as parliamentary private secretary to the shadow Northern Ireland & Scotland teams.

Jess Phillips has resigned as a parliamentary private secretary to the shadow education team.


Dan Jarvis

The MP for Barnsley, a former army officer who served in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, has been tipped as a Labour leader since he entered parliament in 2011. Jarvis (43) could appeal to both poorer communities that are turning away from Labour and the middle-class centrists it needs to win. He is relatively unknown outside Westminster, however, and may be reluctant to lead his party into likely defeat at an early election.

Tom Watson

Deputy leader Tom Watson won a big mandate from the party membership at the same time as Jeremy Corbyn last year. An Old Labour figure, he has been loyal to Corbyn until now, serving as a bridge between the leader’s left-wing coterie and other wings of the party. Watson is experienced in the role of assassin and, as an ally of Gordon Brown, helped to topple Tony Blair.

Lisa Nandy

Wigan MP and shadow energy secretary Lisa Nandy (36) has long been seen as a leadership candidate from the soft left of the party. The daughter of an Indian father and English mother, the former children’s rights activist is an effective media performer whose appeal stretches beyond her own ideological wing of the party.

Angela Eagle

The shadow business secretary is one of the most experienced members of the Labour front bench, an MP since 1992 who served in Gordon Brown’s cabinet. She represented the Remain campaign in television debates ahead of the referendum, the loss of which she has blamed on austerity policies.

Guardian Service