The reshuffle cometh
How do you solve a problem like Maria? After more than a day of waiting for news of Jeremy Corbyn’s frontbench purge, it now appears Shadow Defence Secretary Maria Eagle, not Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn, is likely to be the main mover in the Labour leader’s pared-down ‘revenge reshuffle’. There has been speculation Shadow Energy Secretary Lisa Nandy could take Eagle’s place, but other reports suggest the Wigan MP is happy with her existing brief and does not want to move.
The first change on the Labour frontbench sees Shadow Culture Secretary Michael Dugher sacked altogether from his post. Dugher has been an outspoken critic of the leadership’s actions in recent days, so his departure is not a surprise. However, the former Brown aide is well-liked across the parliamentary party, having been close to both Ed Miliband and Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham. Corbyn’s reshuffle may not result in mass resignations, but could yet engender significant ill will.
Sensing an opening, David Cameron has taken the opportunity this morning to announce Cabinet ministers will be free to campaign on either side come the EU referendum. On the face of it this is a big concession from the PM, and acknowledges major disagreement within the Conservative Party on the issue. But there is a small catch: ministers will have to abide by collective responsibility until Cameron’s renegotiation of EU membership is complete. Should the Prime Minister opt for a quick referendum on the back of a successful agreement, which ministers will take the plunge and vote to leave?
Photograph: Maria Eagle MP