Angela Rayner sacked as Labour Party chairman
Sir Keir Starmer has carried out a major reshuffle of his Shadow Cabinet following the Labour Party’s disappointing results in the UK’s local election. Anneliese Dodds, the Shadow Chancellor, was sacked and replaced by Rachel Reeves. Ms Rayner was removed as party chair, and took Ms Reeves’ job as the Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, shadowing Michael Gove at the Cabinet Office.
The Labour leader said he had faith in his “refreshed and renewed team”.
In a statement, he added that Labour “must be the party that embraces the demand for change across our country” and that the new Shadow Cabinet was the right one to tackle the challenges ahead.
Many viewed the reshuffle, particularly Ms Rayner’s sacking, as the beginning of an “uncivil war”, as coined by Kevin Maguire in the Daily Mirror.
Tensions between Sir Keir and some of his most senior staff during the campaign trail were prevalent.
When Ms Rayner visited Hartlepool ahead of the ballot, the MP for Oldham, Jim McMahon, is said to have been unimpressed with her choice of attire.
Angela Rayner: The deputy leader’s team ‘hit the roof’ after being criticised on the campaign trail
Rachel Reeves: Rayner takes Reeves job as Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
The Guardian reported that Mr McMahon, who ran the Hartlepool by-election campaign, “told a meeting with the leader’s office that Rayner had been ‘dressed inappropriately’ on a visit to the town on 21 March”.
Mr McMahon’s allies strongly denied he had been disparaging about Ms Rayner, whose constituency borders his own in Greater Manchester.
They said he had simply been expressing displeasure about pictures that had been selected for a leaflet.
The photographs show Ms Rayner wearing leopard print trousers, heavy-duty stomper boots, a salmon pink hoodie underneath a coat with a fur lined hood.
Ms Rayner’s team are said to have “hit the roof” on hearing the remarks, according to sources speaking to The Guardian.
Jim McMahon: The Oldham MP is reported to have been disparaging about Rayner’s attire
They chose not to tell the deputy leader for fear of worsening relations in the middle of a difficult by-election campaign, however.
An aide to Mr McMahon said: “Angela is a significant asset to the party and someone Jim supports and respects.
“Any suggestion otherwise is wrong.
“He takes a dim view of people trying to create division in the aftermath of what has been a difficult election.”
Labour ex-council chief claims “The voters have let us down!” [REPORT]
UK storm forecast: Britain to be smashed by 7-day heavy rain deluge [INSIGHT]
Labour has ‘no way back’ as Brexit ‘exposes party’s contempt of voters [ANALYSIS]
Hartlepool: The outfit in the question
Rayner news: The deputy leader is known not to conform to the formal wear of her colleagues
The episode cuts to the heart of why some believe Ms Rayner was the first Labour politician to be demoted by Sir Keir after the party’s port performance.
This is added to the fact that Ms Rayner comes from an entirely different wing of Labour than Sir Keir.
While the leader gained the role on the basis that he would bring the party back to the centre-ground, with many describing him as a Tony Blair reincarnate, Ms Rayner is one of a few left over from the Jeremy Corbyn days.
Further, while Sir Keir has a working class background, the former lawyer rose through the ranks of middle and upper-class Britain, attending grammar school and going on to study at Oxford University.
Brexit news: Starmer’s flip-flopping Brexit policy is what many blame for voters’ mistrust in him
Ms Rayner, meanwhile, was brought up on a council estate, left school at 16 and got pregnant, did not go to university, and is seen by some at the top of Labour as a “working-class oik and a bit thick” who doesn’t fit their “patronising Camden style”, according to The Guardian.
Another Labour source, who has no loyalties to Ms Rayner, said: “It’s a clear mistake to fire someone who speaks like the people we need to talk to.
“It’s a huge mistake from a bunch of snobs who don’t like how she speaks.”
Starmer news: Many claim tensions between Rayner and Starmer had been bubbling away for some time
Dianne Abbott launched into a fierce critique of Sir Keir during an appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday.
She said that he had been “very foolish,” to sack Ms Rayner and that now, “he’s had to walk it back, he can’t sack an elected deputy leader”.
She has been given a whole new range of titles alongside the Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, including the newly created Shadow Secretary for the Future of Work.