A senior party figure revealed to The Mail on Sunday yesterday that Sir Keir’s advisers had discussed the extraordinary step of abolishing Ms Rayner’s post.
The revelation comes amid claims that relations between Sir Keir and Ms Rayner are now at ‘rock bottom’ after claims that he had left her ‘humiliated’ and ‘blindsided’ by his surprise reshuffle of Labour’s Shadow Cabinet last week. And last night, Rayner’s allies reacted in fury at even the idea of axeing the ‘historic’ post of deputy leader, branding it ‘brutal’ and a ‘constitutional outrage’.
One leading Left-winger claimed it showed that North London MP and barrister Sir Keir was ‘frightened’ and ‘intimidated’ by the outspoken Greater Manchester MP.
The MP said: ‘To even talk about getting rid of his deputy’s post is an outrage and insult to party democracy.’ Moderate MPs hit back by pointing out that it was just two years since Left-wing allies of then leader Jeremy Corbyn had also tried to scrap the deputy position to get rid of then post-holder Tom Watson who was critical of Mr Corbyn.
FROSTY RELATIONS: Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and the directly elected deputy, Angela Rayner
A senior party insider told this newspaper that the so-called ‘nuclear option’ of ditching the position was revived earlier this year – including at a meeting attended by Sir Keir.
The idea had been ‘very seriously’ considered, he said, ‘because Keir would feel he had really tried to get on with Angie and it’s proved impossible’.
The insider acknowledged that the change was ‘probably impossible’ because it was ‘such an obviously personal thing’ against Ms Rayner. He also warned the plan, which would require backing at a party conference, would never be supported by trade union leaders.
Last night, Sir Keir’s spokeswoman denied there had been any discussions on abolishing the deputy leader post or plans to do so.
Last night, Sir Keir’s spokeswoman denied there had been any discussions on abolishing the deputy leader post or plans to do so
Source: Daily Mail UK