Jeremy Corbyn has been asked a lot about his leadership qualities in recent days, repeatedly saying that his current Shadow Cabinet will form the next government, perhaps with some less disgruntled Labour moderates making up the ranks in junior ministerial positions. Should Labour achieve the unlikely result of a majority government, this would be straightforward enough. It may even be feasible in the event of a minority government, with the only exception being an official coalition with the SNP, Lib Dems and Greens, potentially paving the way for a few changes at the top.
In an official coalition the likes of John McDonnell, Emily Thornberry and Keir Starmer would likely keep their posts, with lesser ministries being filled or occupied by coalition partners. It is not yet clear whether Diane Abbott’s recently announced long-term health problems will keep her from taking up the position of Home Secretary.
In the event of a fully fledged coalition, it would not be surprising if the SNP pushed for inclusion in at least one of the three Brexit ministries. However, given the antipathy between Labour and the SNP, this is unlikely.
Labour’s manifesto sets out a range of proposals for new ministers and departments, creating a logistics issue that could result in protracted negotiations, similar to Corbyn’s first reshuffle. A Minister for Peace to coordinate diplomatic solutions across the MoD and FCO could sit in either of these departments, but would require the addition of a new minister to maintain existing responsibilities.
The biggest question is how the planned Department for Housing would be implemented, with existing departments likely facing mergers of responsibilities to balance the ministerial wage bill.
Theresa May has suggested that any new government would have just eleven days to prepare for the first round of UK-EU negotiations on 19th June. Characteristically, EU sources have leaked their belief that the Commission will provide a solution to this by delaying initial talks until later in the summer, thus negating the burden on a new administration.
Corbyn has already stated that the work already put in place by the May Government will be largely ignored as he seeks to retain Single Market and Customs Union access with the EU over a potential Free Trade Agreement. A postponement will likely be needed to allow Keir Starmer to conduct negotiations effectively.
On energy, a Labour Government will look to deliver on its manifesto commitments with a return of subsidies for solar and wind as well as other renewable sources. The nationalisation of distribution and transmission will also be a critical first achievement for the new government. Of interest will be the future of nuclear power stations like Hinckley Point C and Wylfa Newydd, which received support in the manifesto but have also received criticism from John McDonnell, who has pledged to ban all nuclear power stations within the first 100 days.
How quickly Labour can deliver on the policy to renationalise the rail industry will largely depend on whether Corbyn will go further in his ambitions and bring franchises into public ownership straight away, rather than waiting for them to expire.
Defence & Security
Following the recent terror attacks, Jeremy Corbyn has outlined a number of actions to be taken in his first few days in Number 10. Amongst these, Corbyn has pledged to ask the security services for a review of the terror threat facing the UK.
Should Corbyn manage to win enough seats for a majority government, he may be emboldened to revisit the issue of Trident’s renewal, though he is more likely to focus on conventional arms and supporting UK manufacturing through spending the UK’s 2% of GDP contribution on new machinery for each wing of the armed forces.