Keir Starmer Removes Angela Rayner From Party Chair Role Amid Labour Reshuffle Rumours
Labour's deputy leader, Angela Rayner, has been removed from her role as party chair this evening over the party's thumping at the elections, just 24 hours after leader Keir Starmer said he would take responsibility for the result.
Rayner was a key figure in the local election campaign and toured the country with Starmer in the run up to polling day. She is expected to be offered another senior role in the party.
A Labour source said: “Keir said he was taking full responsibility for the result of the elections – and he said we need to change. That means change how we run our campaigns in the future. Angela will continue to play a senior role in Keir’s team.”
It is understood there was unhappiness within the party about how she had run the campaign, though others have told PoliticsHome she is being made a scapegoat for the poor performance of Labour overall.
The former care worker who left school at 16, and has been an MP since 2015, served in Jeremy Corbyn's front bench team as shadow education secretary. She is one of the most senior women in the Labour Party.
A former senior staff member for Jeremy Corbyn, told PoliticsHome: "This isn't what taking responsibility looks like, sacking a northern working class woman!"
The sacking has taken shadow ministers by surprise tonight, with one frontbencher telling PoliticsHome the decision was "madness".
One female Labour MP, who admires Rayner, said: "I am so upset, such a misguided thing to do. She is the most relatable senior member of our party. She gets people and people like her a lot.
"She's brave and will always do the right thing. She's a grafter who doesn't just speak but lives our values."
Staffers are also confused, with some querying why the leader's team would start a reshuffle on a Saturday night, and if the plan is to give Rayner another job why not announce it at the same time.
A Labour backbencher said Rayner was being made to take the blame, which would avoid fingers being pointed at figures like shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon, who had a specific role running the Hartlepool campaign.
"This is about protecting the Co-op mafia," they said.
McMahon is chair of the Co-operative Party parliamentary group and has in the past worked with Stamer's chief of staff Morgan McSweeney, who was also working on the Hartlepool campaign, as well as the Scottish election.
Ex-shadow chancellor, John McDonnell who worked with Rayner as part of Corbyn's frontbench, said the sacking was an act of cowardice.
Clive Lewis, who ran to be leader of Labour against Starmer, tweeted simply: "Mess."
Rayner's removal from the party chair role comes amid rumours of a major reshuffle of the Labour front bench. A Labour MP and supporter of Lisa Nandy said there was talk of her being moved from Shadow Foreign Secretary to a “beefed up” communities role, which while suited to her interest in Red Wall towns, would be regarded as demotion.
Gaya Sriskanthan, co-chair of Momentum – the group set up to campaign for Corbyn – accused Starmer of "blatant scapegoating" of Rayner.
She said: "Channel 4’s polling shows that the main reason for the catastrophic defeat in Hartlepool is Keir's leadership.
"It is his failed strategy that has brought us to this point, and he said he would take responsibility. Yet again he has gone back on his word."
In an interview after the election Starmer said: “I intend not only to take responsibility for the results, but to take responsibility for responsibility for fixing things,” Starmer said. “I will set out what change is needed over the next few days.”