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Jeremy Corbyn reshuffles shadow cabinet after resignations

Jeremy Corbyn has conducted a reshuffle of his shadow cabinet to fill vacancies left by senior frontbenchers who quit in order to defy his orders to back the Bill triggering Brexit.

The Labour leader promoted Rebecca Long-Bailey (Salford & Eccles) to shadow business secretary, taking the post vacated by the resignation of Clive Lewis when he voted against the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill in breach of Mr Corbyn's three-line whip on Wednesday.

Bootle MP Peter Dowd is promoted within the shadow Treasury team to fill Ms Long-Bailey's former role as shadow chief secretary.

Sue Hayman (Workington) joins the shadow cabinet as shadow environment secretary, following the resignation of Rachael Maskell, and Christina Rees (Neath) becomes shadow Wales secretary, replacing Jo Stevens.

No replacement for Dawn Butler as shadow communities minister has been announced, though it is not thought the role is being abolished.

Labour said that gaps in more junior frontbench roles created by the reshuffle - as well as the resignation of former early years spokeswoman Tulip Siddiq over Brexit - would be filled "in due course" and no further announcements were expected on Thursday.

Expectations are now high that there will be no mass sacking of the 11 junior shadow ministers and three whips who were also among the 52 Labour MPs to rebel in Wednesday's vote.

Disciplinary action over the revolt is being handled by Labour's chief whip Nick Brown.

All of the four promoted MPs are members of Labour's 2015 intake who have been in Parliament for less than two years.

Most prominent in the group is Ms Long-Bailey, who was last week praised by shadow chancellor John McDonnell as a "brilliant" member of the "next generation of our socialist leadership team", prompting speculation that she might be being groomed as an eventual candidate to succeed Mr Corbyn.

The Labour leader denied that the departures from his frontbench team amounted to a "disaster", despite Conservative claims they had exposed the party as "hopelessly divided" over Brexit.

Mr Corbyn said he had ordered his MPs to walk through the voting lobby with the Government because the party had to carry through the result of last year's EU referendum.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he also dismissed rumours that he was preparing to quit the party's top job as "absolute nonsense".

During a fractious interview, Mr Corbyn accused the programme of reporting "fake news" and said unsourced speculation that he had set a date for stepping down were from "I made it up yesterday dot com".

"I'm really surprised the BBC is reporting fake news," he said. "There is no news. There is no news."

Pressed about claims that he would have to reconsider his position in a year if his poll ratings had not improved, Mr Corbyn replied: "We are demanding social justice in Britain. That's what the Labour Party exists for, that's what I'm leading the party for, and that's what I'm going to continue doing."

The Labour leader insisted his party had not given Prime Minister Theresa May a blank cheque over Brexit.

But told by presenter Charlie Stayt that Labour had agreed with everything, a clearly irritated Mr Corbyn replied: "No, we haven't agreed with everything. Do you not understand that this was a one-clause Bill?"

The 11 frontbenchers who voted against the Bill in its final Commons stage on Wednesday without quitting their jobs were Rosena Allin-Khan, Kevin Brennan, Lyn Brown, Ruth Cadbury, Rupa Huq, Chi Onwurah, Stephen Pound, Andy Slaughter, Catherine West, Alan Whitehead and Daniel Zeichner.

The whips were Thangam Debbonaire, Vicky Foxcroft and Jeff Smith.

Ms Long-Bailey was among the supporters who initially nominated Mr Corbyn for the leadership in 2015, while Mr Dowd and Ms Rees backed Andy Burnham and Ms Hayman nominated Yvette Cooper.

Both Ms Rees and Ms Hayman nominated Owen Smith in his unsuccessful challenge to Mr Corbyn's leadership in 2016.

Jon Trickett, a key ally of Mr Corbyn, was reported to have been stripped of his responsibilities as the party's elections and campaigns coordinator.

A Labour source did not deny the report but insisted that "Jon isn't leaving the shadow cabinet".

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