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Labour reshuffle: John McDonnell dodges question over Hilary Benn's place in Jeremy Corbyn's Shadow Cabinet

Published 29/12/2015

Parliament footage shows Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (L) listening as foreign affairs spokesman Hilary Benn addresses the House of Commons ahead of the vote on Syria in London on December 2, 2015.
Parliament footage shows Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (L) listening as foreign affairs spokesman Hilary Benn addresses the House of Commons ahead of the vote on Syria in London on December 2, 2015.

John McDonnell has refused to guarantee Hilary Benn will remain as shadow foreign secretary should a Labour reshuffle take place.

The shadow chancellor said Mr Benn has an "important role" to play in any future Labour administration.

But amid reports Mr Benn is among those shadow cabinet members whose role is under threat, Mr McDonnell would only say Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is responsible for the decisions if there is a reshuffle in the coming weeks.

Mr Benn's position has come under greater scrutiny after he spoke in favour of UK military action in Syria - a stance which contradicted Mr Corbyn's.

Appearing on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr McDonnell said: "Jeremy Corbyn is the leader of the party. If there's to be a reshuffle, he will announce that, I'm sure, in the coming weeks."

Told Mr Benn may like to know if he should focus on helping his constituents in Leeds with flooding rather than global issues, Mr McDonnell replied: "Hilary Benn has an important role to play in any future Labour administration.

"He's doing a great job in his constituency at the moment, as are a large number of MPs.

"I am hoping we can assist people in their homes in an emergency way at the moment, but more importantly they want to be reassured that politicians are coming together to take expert advice and develop a long-term plan."

Given a third attempt to clarify Mr Benn's future, Mr McDonnell reiterated the Labour leader will determine the party's future administration.

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