Shadow Cabinet in meltdown following Brexit

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has undertaken an emergency shadow cabinet reshuffle as the party has been hit by mass resignations, with MPs blaming the vote for Britain to leave the EU on his leadership of the campaign.

The resignations began yesterday after Corbyn sacked Hillary Benn, the shadow foreign secretary, following a turbulent week in politics, with the UK voting 52% in favour of leaving the EU and prime minister David Cameron announcing he would stand down.

Key figures who resigned on Sunday include Lord Falconer, the shadow justice secretary, Heidi Alexander, the shadow health secretary, Lucy Powell, the shadow education secretary, and Lillian Greenwood, the shadow transport secretary.

Shadow local government minister Steven Reed also announced his resignation this morning.

In his resignation letter to Corbyn, he said: “After last Thursday’s disastrous Brexit vote, I no longer believe we can win a general election with you as leader of the party.”

Stephen Kinnock resigned as parliamentary private secretary to Angela Eagle, the shadow first secretary of state and secretary for business, education and skills, calling Corbyn's role in the pro-Remain campaign "half-hearted and lacklustre."

Other high profile resignations this morning include Yvonne Forvague, the shadow business minister, Anna Turley, the shadow minister for civil society, and Diana Johnson, the shadow foreign minister.

Meanwhile, two Labour MPs, Dame Margaret Hodge and Ann Coffey, have submitted a motion of no confidence in Corbyn.

Corbyn insisted that he is not standing down as leader, saying: “Those who want to change Labour's leadership will have to stand in a democratic election, in which I will be a candidate.

“I am not going to betray the trust of those who voted for me - or the millions of supporters across the country who need Labour to represent them.

“Neither wing of the Tory government has an exit plan. Labour will now ensure that our reform agenda is at the heart of the negotiations that lie ahead.

“One clear message from last Thursday's vote is that millions of people feel shut out of a political and economic system that has let them down and scarred our country with grotesque levels of inequality."


Corbyn, seen as left-wing and Eurosceptic in his views, was elected as Labour leader last year. He oversaw mixed results for Labour in last month’s local and devolved elections, with the party holding its council seats in England and electing a Labour mayor, Sadiq Khan, but being pushed to third place in the Scottish parliament.

The full list of new shadow cabinet positions announced today is:

  • Shadow foreign secretary – Emily Thornberry
  • Shadow health secretary – Diane Abbott
  • Shadow education secretary – Pat Glass
  • Shadow transport secretary – Andy McDonald
  • Shadow defence secretary – Clive Lewis
  • Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury – Rebecca Long-Bailey
  • Shadow international development secretary – Kate Osamor
  • Shadow environment food and rural affairs secretary – Rachel Maskell
  • Shadow voter engagement and youth affairs – Cat Smith
  • Shadow Northern Ireland secretary – Dave Anderson

According to the Guardian, Labour sources reported that Baroness Smith of Basildon, the Labour leader in the Lords, and Lord Bassam, the chief whip, have held discussions with Labour peers, who are likely to boycott the new shadow cabinet.


Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour party, met with Corbyn this morning and is understood to have told him that he has lost authority in the parliamentary Labour party, but stopped short of asking him to resign.

The Public and Commercial Services (PSC) union has issued a statement in support of Corbyn, calling the attacks on him “shameful opportunism”.

The PCS is not affiliated to the Labour party, but Corbyn was the first Labour leader to address its annual conference last month, where he pledged to restore national pay negotiations in the civil service, oppose further cuts to pay and redundancy terms, and oppose the Trade Union Act.

“On this basis, we believe PCS members' interests are best served by Jeremy's continued leadership and we want to carry on working with him and his team to develop policy and opposition to this Tory government,” the union said.

It added that its national executive are meeting this week to discuss how to support Corbyn and seek reassurances from the government on job security and employment rights.

Wayne David, shadow minister covering the Cabinet Office, Scotland and justice, has also resigned, telling Corbyn “Although the EU referendum result cannot be blamed on you, there can be no doubt that your lack of enthusiasm for Labour’s campaign was a significant handicap.”

He called on Corbyn to resign “in the interest of the Party and the country.”

Roberta Blackman-Woods has resigned as shadow housing minister, Ruth Smeeth has resigned as parliamentary private secretary to the shadow Northern Ireland and Scotland teams, and Karin Smyth has resigned as parliamentary private secretary to the shadow health team.

2.30pm UPDATE

Luciana Berger has announced her resignation as shadow minister for mental health.

The total list of resignations is now:

  • Heidi Alexander – shadow health secretary
  • Gloria de Piero – shadow minister for young people and voter registration
  • Ian Murray – shadow Scotland secretary
  • Lucy Powell – shadow education secretary
  • Kerry McCarthy – shadow environment secretary
  • Seema Malhotra – shadow chief secretary to the Treasury
  • Lilian Greenwood – shadow transport secretary
  • Vernon Coaker – shadow North Ireland secretary
  • Lord Falconer – shadow justice secretary
  • Karl Turner – shadow attorney general
  • Chris Bryant – shadow leader of the House of Commons
  • Owen Smith – shadow work and pensions secretary
  • Lisa Nandy – shadow energy secretary
  • Nia Griffith – shadow Welsh secretary
  • Jon Healey – shadow minister for housing and planning
  • Kate Green – shadow women and equalities minister
  • Angela Eagle – shadow business secretary
  • Maria Eagle – shadow culture secretary
  • Luciana Berger – shadow cabinet minister for mental health
  • Diana Johnson – shadow foreign minister
  • Anna Turley – shadow minister for civil society
  • Toby Perkins – shadow armed forces minister
  • Yvonne Fovargue – shadow minister for consumer affairs and science
  • Alex Cunningham – shadow minister for the natural environment
  • Steve Reed – shadow local government minister
  • Roberta Blackman-Woods – shadow housing minister
  • Wayne David – shadow minister covering the Cabinet Office, Scotland and justice
  • Jenny Chapman – shadow childcare and early years minister
  • Stephen Kinnock – parliamentary private secretary to Angela Eagle
  • Karin Smyth – parliamentary private secretary to Heidi Alexander
  • Ruth Smeeth – parliamentary private secretary to the shadow Northern Ireland and Scotland teams
  • Jess Phillips – parliamentary private secretary to the shadow education team

(Image c. Isabel Infantes from EMPICS Entertainment)

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become a PSE columnist? If so, click here.





Hilary B   27/06/2016 at 13:02

Actually only 37.5% of the electorate have voted to Leave, and some of them are already regretting their reckless 'protest'. There is absolutely no clear mandate for the zero option.

Dr David Hill   27/06/2016 at 15:19

All this reminds me of the English civil war and where Corbyn is Cromwell fighting for the people and their democratic right (their party) and the rebels are the aristocracy (MPs who wish to rule over the members and party). Even that Blairite David Milband is now in the lead-betting for the Labour leadership. Does the labour voters want a return of one of the disciples of the second coming of the Messiah Blair and his policies? I very much doubt it. These rebels will destroy the Labour Party, but they are so much up themselves, they don’t really care. Blairocracy is dead, yes dead, but these fools want to revive the corpse. Sheer madness for labour and if so, Labour voters will leave their Party in droves. UK politics resides on another parallel universe currently, far remote to the people that these people are supposed to represent. But I suppose presently that also can be said about the other political antagonists.

Add your comment


public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest news

View all News


Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues t... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this feeling of imminent change than the article James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has penned for us on p28. In it, he highlights... read more >

last word

Prevention: Investing for the future

Prevention: Investing for the future

Rob Whiteman, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA), discusses the benefits of long-term preventative investment. Rising demand, reducing resource – this has been the r more > more last word articles >


Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need ... more >

the raven's daily blog

Cleaner, greener, safer media: Increased ROI, decreased carbon

23/06/2020Cleaner, greener, safer media: Increased ROI, decreased carbon

Evolution is crucial in any business and Public Sector Executive is no different. Long before Covid-19 even became a thought in the back of our minds, the team at PS... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

public sector events

events calendar


August 2020

mon tue wed thu fri sat sun
27 28 29 30 31 1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31 1 2 3 4 5 6

featured articles

View all News