Patrick Wintour reports over at the Guardian that Liam Byrne could be leaving the shadow cabinet in an upcoming mini reshuffle – perhaps as soon as Monday. Wintour says:
“Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, has been discussing whether to conduct a shadow cabinet reshuffle that would strip Liam Byrne of responsibility for the Labour policy review. It is understood that Byrne, the shadow work and pensions secretary, is resisting the move and no decisions have been made. The limited reshuffle could occur as early as Monday.
Under plans being considered by Miliband, Byrne could also lose the work and pensions brief and could even be ditched from the shadow cabinet. The Labour leader has already told the shadow cabinet he is rethinking the way the policy review is conducted.”
Byrne was widely expected to be leaving the shadow cabinet, having announced that he planned to stand for Birmingham Mayor. But the rejection of the mayoral model by the people of Birmingham has left Byrne somewhat in limbo. Indeed it is believed that plans were already in place for a minor shuffle to replace Byrne on the assumption that Birmingham would vote “yes” last week.
However party insiders that I spoke to this afternoon talked down the possibility ot anyone leaving the shadow cabinet, yet a relatively minor set of role changes has not been ruled out.
Whilst popular with broadsheet journalists and on the Westminster speaker circuit, Byrne has struggled to convert this into popularity with Labour activists. Last month Byrne found himself at the bottom of the LabourList shadow cabinet rankings – a position he has held before. Whilst of course the shadow cabinet rankings are just a snapshot of how activist opinion, a poor showing can suggest that MPs might be about to leave the shadow cabinet – a correlation noted by the Independent last year.
I wouldn’t expect to see anyone leave the shadow cabinet. Yet at the same time, if one or two do, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Byrne’s name amongst them.
There’ll be a special post-election “State of the Party” survey tomorrow (including shadow cabinet rankings), and we’ll bring you more reshuffle news as we get it.