Exclusive interview: It’s just a big game of chess says Corbyn on reshuffle

Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn

Have your say

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has broken his silence on the drawn-out reshuffle of his top team.

Mr Corbyn compared his sacking of various shadow front-benchers as a board game and signed off the negotiations over text message.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

In an interview with the Yorkshire Post, he said: "It's like playing multi-dimensional chess. You start off with a chess board and that's fine, then you realise you're playing a game on a parallel board as well and then you suddenly find there's a third board down the way."

Mr Corbyn's switch over, which took 30 hours, has led to the resignation of three shadow front-benchers and the sacking of Barnsley East MP Michael Dugher, former shadow culture minister, and Pat McFadden former shadow Europe minister.

"Because if you move someone from department A to department B, that creates a vacancy in A, which you might need to fill with somebody from C, that then creates a vacancy in E, and by the way somebody in group G is very upset with the job they've got and wants to move somewhere else," added Mr Corbyn.

He said the reshuffle had been an 'adjustment' and took so long because so many Labour members wanted to talk things through.

"My great failing in life is to listen to everybody at whatever greater length they wish to speak to me," he said.

"And this building is full of people who speak at great length on lots of things. And so I sat in my office until midnight for two nights running to go through all of this and we finally completed all the appointments last night by a series of text messages whilst I was on the platform at a huge rally in support of legal aid with me and Helena Kennedy and Peter Kavanagh from Unite speaking at Conway Hall.

"And I finally signed it off just before I had to speak and pressed 'send'. By text. It was very modern."

"I don't dismiss people by text. I talk to people when that comes out. But when it's a private text, you get lovely texts back and that's nice.

"I went to a restaurant afterwards to get something to eat and I got lovely texts back. In my line of work you don't get nice texts."

On Hilary Benn, who was tipped to lose his seat as shadow foreign secretary, but who will stay in post on the understanding he toes the line publicly with the leader on foreign policy, he said: "I've had lots of conversations with Hilary Benn and we get on fine.

"Hilary and I did not agree on Syria, that was very obvious. We have had a long discussion about how we approach foreign policy issues. We are not in hugely different places.

"Fabian Hamilton, another Leeds MP, has now joined his team and there will be the closest cooperation between my office and the offices of all our shadow teams.

"I've now got more staff in place to be able to help that liaison process. I want to see Britain's contribution to international affairs being one of not necessarily intervention, but one of democracy, of human rights and political process which is why the emphasis I made on the Syria debate was about the political outcome in Syria, which firstly ended the civil war ."

He said there had been a 'exchange of views' between himself and Michael Dugher, the Barnsley East MP sacked from his position as shadow culture minister and replaced by Maria Eagle.

Alastair Campbell: I have Keighley to thank for my mental toughness

Back to the top of the page