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Fri, 26 February 2021

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EXCL Leaked letter reveals Jeremy Corbyn's anger at Shadow Cabinet leaks

EXCL Leaked letter reveals Jeremy Corbyn's anger at Shadow Cabinet leaks
2 min read

Meetings of Labour’s Shadow Cabinet will no longer discuss “sensitive topics” because of leaks to the media, Jeremy Corbyn has said.

Special sub-committees made up of smaller groups of frontbenchers will instead be established to talk through areas of contention, which could include the party's Brexit policy.

The Labour leader has also ordered a review of party staff members who attend the weekly get-together in an attempt to stop details of what is said by his senior frontbenchers from being made public.

The surprise move - revealed in a letter leaked to PoliticsHome - comes after reports of recent policy rows among Mr Corbyn’s top team were revealed by journalists.

In the past fortnight, the Labour leader has come under fire at Shadow Cabinet - including from close allies John McDonnell and Diane Abbott - over his failure to decide on what the party’s Brexit policy should be.

At last Tuesday’s meeting, Mr McDonnell said Labour’s position on the issue was "like a slow-moving car crash".

The previous week, Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner said Labour’s recent European and local election defeats were a "failure of leadership".

In his letter to all Shadow Cabinet members, Mr Corbyn said leaks from the meetings “undermine trust and damage our work and collective endeavour”.

He said: “I made clear at Tuesday’s Shadow Cabinet meeting that if this disrespect to colleagues and collective responsibility continues we would have to take steps to protect confidentiality and change our approach to the meetings.

“Following further leaks after Tuesday’s meeting, I have asked for a review of all staff who attend Shadow Cabinet. That is not to suggest that staff are responsible for the leaks, but in these circumstances it is clearly necessary to restrict attendance to those who have to be there.

“Second, in future we will have to limit wider discussions on more sensitive topics in Shadow Cabinet to smaller groups and sub-committees. That also mirrors usual practice in government. But I would hope we can return to a more fully collegiate approach in future.”

The make-up of those sub-committees and when they would meet have still to be decided.

Mr Corbyn’s move comes as he faces increasing pressure on a number of fronts.

As well as Brexit, the Labour leader has also been urged to intervene in the decision to reinstate Chris Williamson to the party.

The controversial Derby North MP had the party whip restored on Wednesday following an investigation into alleged antisemitism, but then lost it again on Friday when Labour general secretary Jennie Formby said the decision would be reviewed.


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