Although Jeremy Corbyn has managed to tempt some MPs who resigned from his shadow cabinet back to the frontbench, there are still many with ministerial experience who are too proud, principled or outspoken to return. So, with that in mind, today’s select committee elections offered a way for moderates to make their mark without having to compromise their values.
After Keith Vaz was forced to resign from his coveted role as chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, several former Labour ‘heavyweights’ entered into the race to succeed him. Although Chuka Umunna had widely been tipped as the favourite, it was a case of Chuka can’t. In a sign of his limited popularity in the House he came a distant third, with the chairmanship going to Yvette Cooper, the former shadow home secretary. Meanwhile, Hilary Benn — the former shadow foreign secretary — has been elected chair of the new Brexit select committee, beating Leave campaigner Kate Hoey. This suggests that MPs are keen for Brexit to be examined from the stance of whether the deal is too hard — rather than whether it is strong enough.
The two appointments are significant because these politicians would usually be expected to be a part of Labour’s shadow cabinet. While neither Benn or Cooper are the flavour of the month with the Corbyn regime, their election today serves as a reminder that his MPs can — and will — get by without him.