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Angela Rayner sacked from role as Labour chair after local elections disaster

Keir Starmer sparked furious recriminations for the move, hours after he vowed to take full responsibility for Labour shedding more than 200 council seats and the Hartlepool by-election

Angela Rayner has been sacked from her role as chair of the Labour party after the disastrous local election results in England.

Labour was heading into meltdown tonight after the MP was removed from her roles as chair and campaign co-ordinators by party leader Keir Starmer. She has been offered another role.

It is the first move in a brutal reshuffle by Sir Keir, who said barely 24 hours ago that he would take responsibility for the results.

It sparked a wave of recriminations among MPs - one of whom branded the sacking "utterly idiotic". Ms Rayner was a stalwart of the Corbyn era but also had broad support from Labour's base - winning double the votes of her nearest rival for deputy leader.

And despite Sir Keir's decision Ms Rayner remains his deputy - as that role is elected by party members. That means she will still wield considerable influence on the party and have a public profile.

Furious Ms Rayner tonight abandoned plans to defend Sir Keir on tomorrow's BBC Andrew Marr Show and instead went to the pub.

Angela Rayner with Labour leader Keir Starmer
Angela Rayner with Labour leader Keir Starmer (Image: PA)

Jon Trickett and Ian Lavery, both former Labour campaign co-ordinators, told the Sunday Times: “We face total obliteration if a cabal of middle-class remainers continue to treat what was once Labour’s core support with contempt.

"Sadly they neither understand nor empathise with how ordinary people live their lives.

“If the leader is looking for someone to blame for this dismal round, he must look in a mirror.”

With 124 out of 143 councils declared in England tonight, Labour had lost 228 seats - as well as a heavy defeat in Hartlepool, the Westminster seat that had been red since its creation in 1974.

Sir Keir's move was condemned by the pro-Jeremy Corbyn group Momentum. Co-chair Gaya Sriskanthan said: "Angela Rayner's sacking is blatant scapegoating.

"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."

Shadow minister Wes Streeting declined to comment on the sacking itself but told Sky News: "She's deputy leader of the Labour party. She's not going anywhere. She's a formidable campaigner - socks it to the Tories."

He added: "Success has many masters and so does failure. We can’t look at these election results and put it down to individual people."

Keir Starmer, pictured arriving home today, has been under pressure over local election results
Keir Starmer, pictured arriving home today, has been under pressure over local election results (Image: Getty Images)

Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell lashed out at "cowardly" Sir Keir, tweeting: "Keir Starmer said yesterday that he took full responsibility for the election result in Hartlepool and other losses.

"Instead today he's scapegoating everyone apart from himself.

"This isn't leadership, it's a cowardly avoidance of responsibility."

The shock decision comes after heavy speculation that Sir Keir would kick-start a reshuffle following the grim election news.

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Those under threat are said to include Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds, Shadow Housing Secretary Thangham Debbonaire and Shadow Commons Leader Valerie Vaz.

Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green is also thought to be in the crosshairs, while former Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper and ex-Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn are big beasts tipped for a return to the frontline.

But few expected Labour's leader to start with Ms Rayner. Labour sources pointed the finger for the move at his allies, including Baroness Jenny Chapman. One senior Labour MP said sarcastically: “She’s showing the political deftness that she’s demonstrated with every intervention in recent weeks”.

A shadow cabinet minister tonight claimed Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy is “definitely next” to be sacked because “people around Keir think she’s disloyal”.

Critics of Sir Keir have accused him of deflecting from the wider problems that led to Labour's defeat.

One shadow cabinet minister claimed Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy is “definitely next” to be sacked
One shadow cabinet minister claimed Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy is “definitely next” to be sacked (Image: Adam Gerrard/Daily Mirror)

The shake-up comes despite Labour's leader saying yesterday: "I take full responsibility for the results - and I will take full responsibility for fixing this."

A Labour source defended Sir Keir's decision tonight, saying: “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 comes after a torrid set of local election results for Labour in England.

Keir Starmer's party lost control of Harlow, Sheffield, Plymouth and Southampton while Tories made a string of gains across the Midlands and the North, including Sunderland.

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Dudley - which had been neck-and-neck before the round of elections - now has almost twice as many Tory seats as Labour ones.

Labour did much better than expected in Wales, retaining control of the Welsh Parliament under Welsh leader Mark Drakeford. And in Scotland Labour notched up almost the same vote share as the Tories in overall constituency results, at 21%.

The party did win the West of England and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayoralties from the Tories in two key victories in the south of England.

But Labour lost the Tees Valley mayor race by a heavy margin to the Tories and also lost the West Midlands mayoral election - despite it being a key battleground.

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