Owen Smith: I would serve in Shadow Cabinet under Jeremy Corbyn

Posted On: 
17th July 2016

Owen Smith has said he is willing to return to a role in the Shadow Cabinet under Jeremy Corbyn if he fails to become the Labour leader.

Owen Smith at the Labour party conference
PA Images

Mr Smith and Angela Eagle are jostling for position, having both declared their candidacies to challenge Mr Corbyn.

They both resigned from the Shadow Cabinet in an attempt to force Mr Corbyn to stand down, but have now triggered formal leadership challenges.

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Mr Smith said if the Labour members choose to stick with the current leader, he would be willing to return to the front bench.

“I will serve and work with Jeremy if he wins because always we need to serve Labour,” he told the Andrew Marr Show.

Ms Eagle refused to be drawn on a potential return: “Jeremy’s lost the confidence of the parliamentary party and we’ve seen from some of the polls that he’s not connecting either with Labour voters, and that’s the argument we need to have in the country.

“We may have an early general election, so let’s do the leadership election and let’s see what happens.”

Hilary Benn, the former Shadow Foreign Secretary and supporter of Ms Eagle, suggested the bulk of Labour MPs would not rally behind Mr Corbyn even if he is reelected by members.

“I think for Labour Members of Parliament who have said ‘I’m afraid we don’t have confidence in your leadership’, I suspect people will continue to hold that view,” he told Sky News.

Ms Eagle and Mr Smith will take part in a parliamentary Labour party hustings tomorrow. 

This morning, they both suggested one could stand aside for the other if necessary to unify the opposition against Mr Corbyn.

“I think one of us standing would be better, is the honest answer,” said Mr Smith, who also suggested that the candidate with the most nominations from fellow MPs should be the one to take on Mr Corbyn.

Ms Eagle added: “I think we have to have the person who’s most likely to beat Jeremy Corbyn, and I think that’s me. We’re not going to do a deal here on your sofa – beautiful though it is.”


Elsewhere in the interviews, Mr Smith suggested the UK did not have to leave the European Union.

“I don’t think we should accept that we are on a definite path out,” he said as he reiterated his call for a second referendum once the terms of Brexit were finalised.