Labour civil war: Keir blindsides Rayner again as deputys key aide suspended

Keir Starmer savaged over Labour reshuffle

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In an escalation of tensions between Sir Keir Starmer, 59, and Angela Rayner, 41, the deputy leader of the party’s aide, Jack McKenna, has been suspended. Just days after a surprise Shadow Cabinet reshuffle, Ms Rayner’s head of communications was suspended on Friday. Although Sir Keir has looked to smooth relations with his deputy leader after attempting to strip her of some responsibilities in May, Ms Rayner was allegedly unaware of the suspension.

According to the Sunday Times, Mr McKenna is also under investigation on suspicion of a personal data breach.

The data breach refers to a tweet that has since been deleted by a journalist.

The tweet concerned a row between Ian Murray, the Shadow Scotland Secretary, and Labour’s head of policy, Claire Ainsley, as to whether one of his aides will be sacked.

Southside, Labour’s headquarters, is thought to be investigating a claim that Mr McKenna briefed the press of the row.

Although he has allegedly been suspended, Labour insists this does not suggest he is guilty, while allies of Mr McKenna claim there is no evidence to support the allegation he briefed the press.

It is also claimed Mr McKenna briefed reporters over the initial row between Sir Keir and his deputy in May.

Sir Keir’s team attempted a Shadow Cabinet reshuffle following the Hartlepool by-election loss.

Ms Rayner, however, was subsequently made Shadow First Secretary of State, Deputy Leader, Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Shadow Secretary of State for the Future of Work.

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Since then, Sir Keir has attempted to heal relations by organising weekly lunches with his deputy.

Last week, relations were once again tested after Sir Keir tried a second re-shuffle, an hour before Ms Rayner was due to make a speech.

Yvette Cooper was made Shadow Home Secretary, David Lammy Shadow Foreign Secretary, Lisa Nandy was shifted to Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Secretary, and Wes Streeting as Shadow Health Secretary.

Nick Thomas-Symonds was moved to International Trade, while Ed Miliband was shifted to Climate Change.

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Following the appointment, Sir Keir said: “Building on our changes to Shadow Cabinet, the appointment of our shadow ministers reiterates that the Labour Party I lead is focused on working people’s priorities.

“We will relentlessly hold this Conservative government to account for their failure to get a grip of the challenges we face, and will put forward our positive and exciting ideas for our country.

“Labour is back in business and ready for government.”

It is thought Ms Rayner was notified of the reshuffle after completing her media appointments before her speech.

A spokesperson for Ms Rayner said: “My understanding is that Keir and Angela had a short conversation in between her media round and her speech.

“She was not aware of the details of the reshuffle and she was not consulted on the reshuffle as she said herself.”

The Labour Party and Mr McKenna refused to comment on The Sunday Times’ story.

Express.co.uk has approached the Labour Party for comment.

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