Hilary Benn's position as shadow foreign secretary is reportedly safe after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was warned that he could trigger wholesale resignations by axing him. Corbyn held lengthy discussions with Benn and shadow defence secretary Maria Eagle amid ongoing speculation that the pair could be moved on over conflicting positions on Syria and Trident.
Two senior Labour sources have said the positions of both Benn and the chief whip, Rosie Winterton are "safe", according to a report in the Telegraph. Despite being locked in meetings for over seven hours, it is still unclear who will be moved on in the reshuffle after Corbyn refused to address it on Monday morning (4 January). Later in the day he asked journalists to stop loitering outside his parliamentary office in the hope of hearing who could be promoted or axed from Labour's front bench team.
Corbyn was warned by MPs that the forced removal of Benn would result in mass walkouts. The Labour leader was left red-faced after Benn voted in favour of extending British air strikes into Syria in last month's Commons vote, and he also does not see eye-to-eye with shadow defence secretary, Maria Eagle on the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent, which Corbyn opposes.
Corbyn was reminded by shadow Europe minister, Pat McFadden that his "whole career" consisted of clashing with party leaders and urged him against conducting a reshuffle "as a punishment for shadow minister[s] who disagree with him". Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Westminster Hour, McFadden said: "He has talked of an open, pluralist kind of politics but a reshuffle for that reason could end looking more petty and divisive than open and pluralist politics."
But Corbyn was offered some support by Labour MP Clive Lewis, who said that reshuffles were a "perk" of being a leader. He told the Victoria Derbyshire programme: "It's his prerogative as leader to be able to manage and shape the shadow cabinet - it's one of the benefits and perks of being a leader to be able to shape the shadow cabinet without it being seen as revenge."
Meanwhile, former interim Labour leader, Harriet Harman has said that the Opposition needs more women in top jobs. Speaking on last night's Newsnight, Harman said: "We can't have a men-only leadership when we are a party for women and equality."
The result of the reshuffle is expected to be announced by lunchtime on 5 January.