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Jeremy Corbyn Has Appointed Leadership Rival Owen Smith To The Shadow Cabinet

The Labour leader has stuck with the shadow cabinet team who were loyal to him during last summer's coup – but invited back his former leadership rival Owen Smith to fill a vacancy.

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Peter Nicholls / Reuters

Jeremy Corbyn has appointed his former leadership challenger Owen Smith to the shadow cabinet, in one of his few olive branches to his internal opponents.

The Labour leader had the opportunity to reshuffle his top team, and many MPs who were previously anti-Corbyn but are now much more upbeat about the leader's prospects had hoped he would be tempted to bring back the likes of Yvette Cooper and Chukka Umunna to the Labour front bench.

The leader has instead limited his reshuffle to filling the vacancies left by Labour MPs who left parliament. Otherwise he has stuck with the group of MPs who were loyal to him following last summer's attempted coup, when almost the entire shadow cabinet resigned in an attempt to force Corbyn to quit.

Deputy leader Tom Watson, a long-term Corbyn critic, loses the role of party chairman and is replaced by Ian Lavery, who has always been loyal to the leader.

“I am delighted to announce four appointments to fill shadow cabinet vacancies," said Corbyn. "I look forward to working with the strengthened shadow cabinet as we prepare a government in waiting to carry out our manifesto for the many not the few.

"Our party is now on a permanent campaign footing in anticipation of the failure of Theresa May's attempt to establish a stable administration with the support of the DUP."

Smith, who was ostracised by the left of the party after unsuccessfully challenging Corbyn last summer, has been welcomed back as shadow Northern Ireland secretary at a crucial time, given the DUP's involvement in a possible deal with the Conservative government.

The Pontypridd MP was a special adviser to Northern Ireland secretary Paul Murphy during Tony Blair's government, meaning he already has some knowledge of the job.

Lesley Laird, who only became an MP six days ago, goes straight into the shadow cabinet as shadow secretary of state for Scotland, in one of the fastest rises to the front bench in British political history.

Other appointments include Dawn Butler as shadow minister for diverse communities.

In addition to his job as party chairman, Ian Lavery will be joint election campaign coordinator, serving with Andrew Gwynne.

Gwynne has also been appointed as shadow communities secretary.

Jim Waterson is a politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Jim Waterson at

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