The key moves in Keir Starmer’s make-or-break shadow cabinet reshuffle…
Nick Brown – SACKED as party’s chief whip
Anneliese Dodds – SACKED as shadow chancellor; but HIRED as party chair
Angela Rayner – SACKED as party chair and party campaign coordinator; but HIRED as the shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Rachel Reeves – HIRED as the new shadow chancellor
Alan Campbell – HIRED as party’s chief whip
Thangam Debbonaire – HIRED as shadow Commons leader
Valerie Vaz – SACKED as shadow Commons leader
An embattled Sir
In a bold but not unexpected move, the stumbling Labour leader demoted party favourite Anneliese Dodds from the key role of shadow chancellor.
He replaced her with Oxford educated former
In the most left-field move of the night, the Labour leader sacked veteran MP Nick Brown as the party’s chief whip.
Then, in a dramatic twist to earlier events, Sir Keir reinstated Angela Rayner to his front bench – hours after axing her from her role as party chair.
In what some now consider a promotion from her previous role, the elected deputy party leader will now take Michael Gove to task as Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
Ms Dodds will now replace her as party chair, though, according to some reports, Ms Rayner will still have significant influence over internal party matters.
Mr Brown meanwhile will be replaced as chief whip by Alan Campbell.
Thangam Debbonaire has been moved to shadow Commons leader, replacing Valerie Vaz.
Speaking after the reshuffle, which comes amid the continuing fallout of the party’s poor local election showing and humiliating Hartlepool by-election defeat, Sir Keir urged that the Labour party ‘must change’.
He also promised a ‘relentless focus on the priorities of the British people’.
An embattled Sir Keir Starmer tonight swung the axe as he chopped and changed his shadow cabinet in a make-or-break reshuffle
In a bold, but not entirely unsurprising move, the stumbling Labour leader demoted Anneliese Dodds (pictured right) from the important role of shadow chancellor. He replaced her with Oxford educated former Bank of England worker Rachel Revees (pictured left) – a key ally of Ed Miliband during his spell as Labour leader.
In the most left-field move of the night, the Labour leader sacked veteran MP Nick Brown (pictured left) as the party’s chief whip. And in a dramatic twist, Sir Keir reinstated Angela Rayner (pictured right) to his front bench, after earlier axing her from the important role of party chair.
Thangam Debbonaire (pictured left) has been moved to shadow Commons leader, replacing Valerie Vaz (pictured right)
Sir Keir said: ‘The Labour Party must be the party that embraces the demand for change across our country.
‘That will require bold ideas and a relentless focus on the priorities of the British people.
‘Just as the pandemic has changed what is possible and what is necessary, so Labour must change too.’
New by-election woe for Keir Starmer as ex-Coronation Street actress Tracy Brabin wins race to be West Yorkshire mayor
Labour leader Sir
MP Tracy Brabin made history by being elected as the first ever West Yorkshire mayor – and the first female metro mayor in England.
But it means former Coronation Street star Ms Brabin, who also celebrates her 60th birthday today, will now have to step down from her Westminster seat of Batley and Spen.
It will spark a fresh by-election in the marginal Labour constituency – which has now become a key Conservative target.
The bitter-sweet Labour win in the West Yorkshire mayoral vote comes just days after the party’s poor performance in the local elections and its humiliating by-election defeat in Hartlepool.
The constituency, part of Labour’s ‘Red Wall’, turned blue in Thursday’s by-election as it was won by the Conservatives for the first time in the seat’s 47-year history.
And, with Labour holding an even tighter majority in Batley and Spen, there will now likely be fear among the party’s top table of another by-election defeat when voters in the constituency head to the ballot boxes.
Labour had a 4,000 majority in Hartlepool from the 2019 election. But in a historic by-election win for the Tories on Thursday, the party won the seat by almost 7,000 votes.
The seat has been held by Labour since 1997, including from 2014 by MP Jo Cox – who was murdered in 2015 by a far-right knifeman.
The rise of Ms Reeve will be one of the big talking points of the reshuffle.
First elected to represent Leeds West in 2010, within six months she was the shadow minister for pensions.
After subsequent roles at shadowing in the Treasury and Department for Work and Pensions, Ms Reeves assumed the role of shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster – opposite Michael Gove – when Sir Keir became party leader.
She was good friends with constituency neighbour Jo Cox, who was killed in 2016.
Paying a tearful tribute to her colleague in the Commons days after her death, Ms Reeves said of Ms Cox: ‘Batley and Spen will go on, to elect a new MP, but no one can replace a mother.’
Politics runs in the family, and Ms Reeves is married to a former private secretary and speech writer of Gordon Brown.
Her younger sister, Ellie also has a seat in Parliament as the Labour MP for Lewisham West and Penge, and serves as the shadow Solicitor General.
Before arriving in Westminster, Ms Reeves worked as an economist at the Bank of England and the British Embassy in Washington DC.
Ms Dodds meanwhile will take up the important role of party chair.
Labour MP for Oxford East since June 2017, Ms Dodds was an MEP for South East England for four years before taking her seat on the opposition benches.
A year after her election, she was made shadow financial secretary to the Treasury, before receiving her promotion to the shadow front bench in April last year.
A mother of two young children, 43-year-old Ms Dodds’ media skills were put to the test just days into her role as shadow chancellor, when her daughter burst in during an interview with Sky News.
‘I thought she was going to stay asleep, sorry… so embarrassing,’ Ms Dodds said when asked about the moment at the interview’s close.
‘She’s thankfully under the chair now.’
Ms Dodds has now been relegated to the role of party chairman and chair of Labour Policy Review.
Before politics, Aberdeen-born Ms Dodds worked as an academic and it is thought her research focused on public policy and risk in different industries, sectors and nations.
It comes after Ms Rayner was effectively sacked as party chair earlier today, sparking anger from left-wingers and moderates, with claims the Ashton-under-Lyne MP is being made to carry the can for Sir Keir’s mistakes.
Ms Rayner was elected as party deputy leader separately to Sir Keir, meaning he cannot axe her entirely – with even his normal supporters conceding it was a ‘bad idea’.
However, there are claims that some ministers are discussing simply refusing to take other jobs, with Sir Keir facing the threat of a mass walk-out that could deal a fatal blow to his authority. Some shadow cabinet ministers earlier told MailOnline they had heard nothing from the leader.
As alarm bells started ringing over the scale of unrest in the party, shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray insisted Ms Rayner had not been ‘sacked’ and was instead being given a ‘significant promotion’. He told Sky News she was being moved from the ‘back office to the front office’ as a spokeswoman.
Liverpool MP Kim Johnson took aim directly at Sir Keir saying shifting Ms Rayner was an ‘appalling act of cowardice’.
Corbynite former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott also waded into the spat, saying the decision to move Ms Rayner was ‘baffling’ and demanding Sir Keir reverts to ‘popular’ hard-Left policies.
‘She didn’t take any of the big decisions around Hartlepool and we’ve not heard anywhere in the country people saying they didn’t vote Labour because of Angela Rayner,’ she said.
And Jon Trickett, who was sacked by Sir from the shadow cabinet last year, tweeted: ‘I don’t think we should rule out a leadership challenge.’
Keir Starmer dropped a bombshell last night by sacking Angela Rayner (pictured together last week) as Labour Party chairwoman – although because she is the elected deputy leader he does not have powers to axe her altogether
Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds (left) is also expected to be another victim of a brutal reshuffle this week. Deborah Mattinson (right), a key adviser to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, has been appointed as Labour’s new strategy director
Liverpool MP Kim Johnson took aim directly at Sir Keir saying shifting Ms Rayner was an ‘appalling act of cowardice’
With almost all the council results in for England, Labour has lost more than 300 seats while the Tories are up more than 200
Diane Abbott demands return to ‘popular’ hard-Left policies
Diane Abbott today demanded Keir Starmer returns to the ‘popular’ Socialist policies from the Jeremy Corbyn era
Diane Abbott today demanded Keir Starmer returns to the ‘popular’ Socialist policies from the Jeremy Corbyn era as Labour plunged further into civil war.
The former shadow home secretary lashed out at Sir Keir as she insisted Mr Corbyn only led the party to its worst general election defeat since 1935 due to an ‘extraordinary media attack’.
Ms Abbott also waded into the spat over the ‘sacking’ of Angela Rayner from the key role as Labour chair, saying the decision was ‘baffling’.
The intervention came as Sir Keir mounted a desperate bid to save his shattered leadership after the dire Super Thursday results – kicking off a reshuffle and drafting in a New Labour pollster as his strategy chief.
Speaking to Sky News’ Ridge On Sunday, Ms Abbott, who described the Hartlepool by-election loss as ‘distressing’, said: ‘I think we need to be building on the policies in the 2019 manifesto, many of which were forward-thinking and popular.
‘We need to get the strategy right.’
Told that Mr Corbyn’s manifesto had failed, Ms Abbott added: ‘It was a manifesto that, taking the policies individually, was very popular.’
She went on: ‘We won Hartlepool twice under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and, importantly, with a bigger proportion of the vote.
‘You can’t say that Jeremy is responsible for the Hartlepool result. The disaffection in post-industrial Britain long predates Jeremy’s leadership and we have to look at the roots of it.’
Ms Mattinson worked as a Labour pollster until the party was ejected from power in 2010, and after Jeremy Corbyn’s 2019 general election defeat – the party’s worst performance since 1935 – penned a book analysing the collapse of the Red Wall.
She is due to leave BritainThinks, the research and consultancy company she co-founded, to take up her role as the party’s strategy director next month.
Ms Mattinson said: ‘I am very much looking forward to joining Keir Starmer and his team.
‘The coming months will be challenging but I will be proud to play a part in helping Labour reconnect with the voters it has lost.’
There was a small bright spot for Labour last night as Sadiq Khan retained his job as London Mayor, although Tory candidate Shaun Bailey far exceeded expectations and slashed his majority.
They also secured the Cambridge and Peterborough mayoralty as the dramatic realignment of the UK’s political landscape continues.
However, in the latest punishing results from other key battlegrounds the Conservatives gained control of Amber Valley in Derbyshire from Labour, after winning 13 of the 16 seats being contested.
And another expected victory could cause a serious headache for Sir Keir, as Tracey Brabin securing the West Yorkshire mayoralty would mean a by-election in her Batley & Spen constituency.
Labour was seemingly unable to find anyone to make the case for Sir Keir on the BBC’s flagship Marr Show political programme today.
In more evidence of the bitter war threatening to tear Labour apart, details of Ms Rayner’s use of first class rail tickets were leaked to the Sunday Times. Her allies insisted she only did so for safety reasons after the murder of Sarah Everard.
Ms Rayner is a survivor from the Corbyn era, and the defenestration of the party’s most senior woman – who represents a Northern seat – from a key role sparked a backlash from all sides.
Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell pointed out that Sir Keir had promised on Friday to take ‘full responsibility for the election result in Hartlepool & other losses’, but was now ‘scapegoating everyone apart from himself’. ‘This isn’t leadership it’s a cowardly avoidance of responsibility,’ the Corbynite said.
Mr McDonnell told the Marr Show that ditching Ms Rayner as national campaign co-ordinator was a ‘huge mistake’.
‘I haven’t spoken to Angie. And let me be clear, I don’t have any brief for Angie – I didn’t support her as deputy leader, I supported Richard Burgon,’ he said.
‘When the leader of the party on Friday said he takes responsibility for the election result in Hartlepool in particular and then scapegoats Angela Rayner, I think many of us feel that is unfair, particularly as we all know actually that Keir’s style of leadership is that his office controls everything.
‘It is very centralised and he controlled the campaign, so many of us think it is really unfair.
‘What public relations genius thought this was a good move on the very day, actually, we were having successes – Andy Burnham in Manchester, Steve Rotheram in Liverpool, Paul Dennett in Salford, Marvin down in Bristol, Sadiq in London.
‘The very day we’re recovering a bit and having successes, then they do this. I just think it is a huge mistake.’
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 changing how we run our campaigns in future. Angela will continue to play a senior role in Keir’s team.’
It came as former Cabinet minister Andy Burnham piled more pressure on Sir Keir, by blasting the party for being too ‘London-centric’, while adding in a tweet: ‘I can’t support this.’
The former health secretary, who quit as an MP after losing the leadership to Jeremy Corbyn, also hinted that he would be prepared to have another tilt at the top job after being overwhelmingly returned as Greater Manchester mayor.
Keir Starmer sacked Angela Rayner (centre, pictured with unsuccessful West Midlands Metro Mayor candidate Liam Byrne, right) as Labour Party chairwoman and campaigns co-ordinator tonight over Thursday’s dismal election fiasco, in a move that looked certain to plunge the party into a new civil war
Mr Burnham, who has been dubbed ‘King of the North’ after taking on Boris Johnson over Covid regulations last year, won a second term as mayor with an increased share of the vote, on an increased turnout, from 2017.
Tories gain more Red Wall council seats… but lose ground in their own heartlands
The Tories gained more ground in Red Wall areas today as the last council results trickled in – but lost ground in their own traditional stronholds.
The Conservatives gained control of Amber Valley in Derbyshire from Labour after winning 13 of the 16 seats being contested.
Nine seats were seized from Labour.
But Labour gained five seats in Worthing, with the Tories only narrowly retaining control of the council in their Sussex heartlands.
Keir Starmer’s party also added a county council seat from the Conservatives in Chipping Norton, the affluent Cotswold area where David Cameron lives.
The Conservatives now have 19, with Labour on 15 and the Liberal Democrats three.
The Liberal Democrats also took control of St Albans council, having previously been tied with the Tories.
Mr Burnham, who has been dubbed ‘King of the North’ after taking on Boris Johnson over Covid regulations last year, won a second term as mayor with an increased share of the vote, on an increased turnout, from 2017.
It left him the most senior and successful elected Labour Party politician outside the parliamentary leadership of the party.
In an interview with Sky, Mr Burnham suggested he would entertain becoming leader of the Labour Party ‘in the distant future’, adding: ‘If the party were ever to feel it needed me, well I’m here and they should get in touch.’
He added: ‘I have tried twice to be the leader and it has never worked, so I’m not under any illusions that it has never worked for me in the past.
‘I feel I am in the best job in the world and we have a massive job ahead of us but I’m here to help the Labour Party if they need it – but they need to change, let’s be really clear about this.
‘They have lost an emotional connection with parts of the country that is going to take a lot of work to get back, so I think the party has to do a lot of soul-searching about these results and understand why we have done well in Wales, places like Greater Manchester, and it really needs to then buy in to English devolution and build from the bottom up – that’s what these results are telling them.’
One usually supportive Labour MP told MailOnline of the axing of Ms Rayner: ‘Not the best idea. She has been useless in the campaigning role, but then so has his own office.’
A frustrated moderate MP said: ‘His office is full of political incompetents who act like they are in an edition of the West Wing without any political antenna. They make no attempt to connect with the PLP and think elected politicians are an inconvenience.’
Lord Mandelson vented anger at the agitating from hard-Left figures for another lurch back towards Corbynite policies.
The former Cabinet minister told Times Radio that Sir Keir’s problem was that he had ‘underestimated the scale of the challenge’ and needed to be ‘bold’ about making changes.
‘At the beginning, I think he underestimated the scale of the challenge he was taking on,’ the peer said.
‘And I think he underestimated the scale of the transformation that was needed to meet voters expectations of what they wanted to see the Labour Party do and change and to take on.
‘Second, I think after the devastating result of the 2019 election he assumed the party would show some humility, and willingness to change.
How ‘Grangela’ Rayner’s tough upbringing gave her a touch of steel
Angela Rayner has drawn heavily on her time as a one-time struggling teenage mother during her rise to the top of the Labour movement.
The 41-year-old, who has been MP for Ashton-under-Lyne since 2015, proudly welcomed her own granddaughter at the age of just 37 with a tweet jokingly referring to herself as ‘Grangela’.
The married mother-of-three was just 16 when she had her first son, Ryan, and has told how becoming pregnant so young ‘saved’ her.
Her teenage relationship with Ryan’s father ended quickly and she has since married Unison official Mark Rayner.
But speaking at a Labour Party fringe event in 2019, she said it was her ambition to be a good mother which has driven her.
Her politics was also shaped by her early life, being forced to drop out of school aged 16 with no qualifications after becoming pregnant, which she said was the best thing which could have happened to her.
‘I was in the Manchester nightclub scene at 13 and thought affection from men – the wrong type of affection – was the right thing,’ she told
‘I lost about six friends before I was 18. They died through a drug overdose, or killed in a car, joy-riding.
‘But once I got pregnant it wasn’t just my life I was messing around with. I had somebody to look after.’
Living on a Stockport council estate with her baby son Ryan, she continued to tie down a job in a care home to keep her independence and went back to take exams.
Ms Rayner’s steeliness was developed earlier in her life when she was forced to look after her bipolar mother, whose mental state left the family struggling to make ends meet.
She later became a trade union representative, fast rising to be the most senior Unison official in the North West.
Her husband Mark is also a trade union officer and the couple have two children – Jimmy, 11, and Charlie, 10.
‘And I’m afraid I think that the assumption, in the case of some leading members of the party, was misplaced. Just look at the opposition of John McDonnell, Diane Abbott and other supporters of Jeremy Corbyn who were responsible for that devastating defeat.
‘They’re not showing humility and willingness. They’re not showing a preparedness to change.They are just remaining stuck in a rut, looking backwards and trying to justify and vindicate themselves and the policies on which we lost the last election very, very badly indeed.’
As Mayor of Greater Manchester Mr Burnham has built his own successful brand. But his success is widely seen as coming through his high profile, as a former Labour government minister – and his distance from the Labour Party.
Despite first becoming MP for Leigh in 2001 and serving as a government minister during 17 years of New Labour, he has railed against the poor-relation status of the North and taken to regularly bashing the Westminster establishment.
He also served in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, which has led to an often-heard criticism within Labour ranks – that Mr Burnham, having served in Tony Blair’s pro-EU, globalising Labour Party and Mr Corbyn’s socialist, red-in-tooth-and-claw version, he is a weather-vane who goes with the flow to ensure his own electoral success.
Mr Burnham left Westminster to become Mayor of Greater Manchester in 2017 and crucially was removed from his party’s decision to back a second referendum on the Brexit vote, the cause of anger among northern Leave voters.
Labour was thrashed in the Hartlepool by-election, with Jill Mortimer securing a majority of almost 7,000, while Tory Ben Houchen won a second term as mayor of Tees Valley with a whopping 73 per cent share of the vote.
And the Conservatives gained control of a series of councils, including Northumberland, Nottinghamshire, Dudley, Harlow and Nuneaton and Bedworth – reversing the mid-term slump often suffered by governing parties.
With the Tories also winning seats across the West Midlands, senior figures were increasingly confident that the region’s mayor Andy Street will secure a second term in office when returns there are announced today.
Ministers have predicted that Boris Johnson could rule longer than Margaret Thatcher as results showed the Tories could take 36 more Westminster seats from Labour at the next General Election.
They believe there has been a permanent shift in the UK’s political identity and claimed Mr Johnson – who has been the premier since July 2019 – could outlast Margaret Thatcher’s 11 years in Downing Street, The Times reports.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the count for the Scottish Parliamentary Elections at the Glasgow Emirates Arena yesterday
Andy Burnham piled more pressure on Sir Keir, saying he ‘can’t support’ Angela Rayner’s firing
They believe the Tories must establish an advantage by winning the ‘culture wars’ and challenging ‘woke’ views. Meanwhile sources told the Guardian Sir Keir is now considering moving Labour out of London to reconnect with ‘Red Wall’ voters.
However, Mr Johnson is facing a constitutional clash with Nicola Sturgeon as she renews her push for another Scottish independence referendum after winning her own mandate in Scottish elections.
Labour infighting flared with frontbencher Khalid Mahmood announcing he was quitting Labour’s front bench in protest at the ‘woke’ leadership.
The former defence spokesman and West Midlands MP said the party had been ‘effectively captured’ by a ‘London-based bourgeoisie, with the support of brigades of woke social media warriors’.
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