HEMSWORTH MP Jon Trickett was today at the centre of fresh turmoil for Labour as Jeremy Corbyn tried to draw a line under the party’s Brexit vote woes.
Mr Trickett was relieved of his role as Labour’s election campaign co-ordinator just as the party is fighting two crunch by-elections.
His election responsibilities were passed to fellow MPs Andrew Gwynne and Ian Lavery while he was made Shadow Cabinet Office Minister and remains Shadow Lord President of the Council.
Mr Trickett, a former leader of Leeds City Council, was unavailable for comment yesterday.
On Twitter he thanked a well-wisher who described him as “one of the kindest and most decent people you could wish to meet”.
Mr Corbyn was forced to re-shape his shadow cabinet following a string of resignations by frontbenchers wanting to defy his three-line whip and vote against the Brexit Bill giving Theresa May the power to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
They included York Central MP Rachael Maskell whose former role as Shadow Environment Secretary has gone to Workington MP Sue Hayman.
Salford MP Rebecca Long-Bailey’s appointment as Shadow Business Secretary comes amid suggestions she is being lined up as a potential successor to Mr Corbyn.
Neaoth MP Christina Rees and Peter Dowd, the MP for Bootle completes the new look Labour frontbench as Shadow Welsh Secretary and Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury respectively.
The appointment of four people who were only elected as MPs for the first time at the last General Election has only served to highlight the wealth of political talent now sitting on Labour’s backbenches including a string of ex-ministers and former shadow cabinet members among Yorkshire’s MPs.
However the appointments were welcomed by supporters of Mr Corbyn including Leeds East MP Richard Burgon, the Shadow Justice Secretary, who described Mrs Long-Bailey as “a real northern voice that never stops working for team Labour”.
After a period of relative calm since Mr Corbyn’s re-election as leader at last September’s Labour conference, the turmoil surrounding the Brexit vote has only served to draw fresh attention to the party’s woes.
Tensions surrounding Mr Corbyn’s leadership are set to rise still further ahead of the by-elections for the Copeland and Stoke Central seats later this month.
Labour enjoyed majorities of 5,179 and 2.564 respectively at the last election and ordinarily an opposition party would expect to defend seats with ease at by-elections.
However, the party is expected to face a significant challenge from the Conservatives in Copeland and the UK Independence Party in Stoke where party leader Paul Nuttall is the candidate.
Mr Corbyn’s position on nuclear power is expected to cost the party votes in Copeland, the home of the Sellafield nuclear plant, while his reluctance to commit Labour to ending freedom of movement will help Ukip in Stoke.
Negative results could see more Labour MPs considering their future.
Colleagues have spoken of their surprise at the decision of Tristram Hunt and Jamie Reed to resign from their seats mid-term, triggering the two by-elections.
But there is widespread speculation among Labour MPs that in the absence of a change of leadership and an improvement in poll ratings a significant number of their colleagues will choose not to contest the 2020 General Election.