The Labor Party is pushing for Trident

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As RESHUFFLES go, Jeremy Corbyn had few changes to his shadow cabinet. They were, however, important. In a marathon of meetings over three days (tired and hungry lobby journalists huddled in the corridors outside), the Labor leader suppressed dissent, tightened his grip on the party and he prepared the ground for an almighty battle standing on Britain’s Trident. nuclear deterrence.

He did so in four moves. First, he sacked Michael Dugher (above, second from left), the shadow culture secretary, apparently for comments critical of left-wing groups close to the Labor leader and for warning – correctly, as it turned out – about an upcoming “revenge renegotiation”. . Secondly, and in a similar vein, Mr Corbyn sacked Pat McFadden, his able and popular shadow European minister. Mr McFadden’s crime was to have invited the prime minister, in a debate after the Paris attacks in November, to emphasize that the West was not to blame (it appears, on the contrary , how uncertain Mr Corbyn and his friends were on the subject). By firing him, the Labor leader made it clear that he intended to fight on the territory of foreign and security policy, which he had largely opposed in his party during his decades as a backbencher.

This was also the impetus for his third move: Hilary Benn, her foreign secretary (above, far right), instead of clipping his wings. Last month, Mr Benn had spoken, unlike Mr Corbyn, in favor of British military intervention against the Islamic State in Syria. According to reports, he kept his position only by promising that he would not break from the leadership on such matters again. Finally, and notably, Labor leader Maria Eagle (above, second from right) moved from defense to Mr Dugher’s former job, replacing her with Emily Thornberry (below) – who was a critic of Trident.

All this flies in the face of assumptions made immediately after Mr Corbyn’s victory in September’s Labor leadership election: that the new, far-left leader would need the majority of his MPs , to fight furiously to keep his job and that he would soon be fired. even though. Today the landscape looks very different. The lack of a strong, moderate rival – and the reluctance of MPs on that wing of the party to cause a rift – is more evident. So too is the size, organizational ability and determination to seize control of the party of its Corbynite wing, greatly mobilized by tens of thousands of new, left-wing members. An unexpected victory in a by-election in Oldham last month, although it was almost entirely the work of a strong local candidate, put Mr Corbyn’s critics on the back foot. For now, he is not going anywhere.

That is damaging to Labour’s prospects. But it also means that an increasingly confident force of suspicion about Western defense and security policy has gripped the heart of British politics at a time when such issues are alive and well. The Commons will soon debate new measures to combat terrorism. British planes are now operating over Iraq and Syria. m

In particular, MPs are expected to vote later this year on renewing Britain’s Trident nuclear ban. It is clear that Mr Corbyn is determined to restore his party’s old one-sided stance on this. His reshuffle seems to indicate that, after being forced by his shadow cabinet to offer a free vote on Syria, he is determined to keep his hands (largely for renewal) on Trident. That will not come without a fight; the party remains committed to nuclear deterrence. But it is one that Mr Corbyn, especially now, is capable of fighting and winning.

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