Isabel Hardman

Respect for Rayner is growing after Starmer’s failed sacking

Respect for Rayner is growing after Starmer's failed sacking
(Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
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The resignation of Carolyn Harris as Sir Keir Starmer's parliamentary private secretary (more here from Steerpike) shows that the peace between Angela Rayner and the Labour leader is very much on Rayner's terms. Harris is reported to have left the job after being accused of spreading baseless rumours about the deputy leader's private life. There have been furious briefings from both sides over the past few days but Rayner has not had to sack anyone from her side, showing she has ended up with more power than Starmer.

A number of her frontbench colleagues are also seriously impressed by the way in which she negotiated her new lengthy job title over the weekend, saying it showed how in control of things she was compared to Starmer. It is well-known that after being sacked from her party chair role, Rayner went to the pub and did not pick up the phone. 

Rather less noted is that she then had a slow morning on Sunday following her pub session while Starmer's team worked out what on earth to do. I understand that, rather than negotiations contenting for 30 hours, Rayner didn't start up again until 2 p.m. When I approached Rayner's team, a spokesperson said they were 'not commenting on any aspect of the discussions over the weekend'.

Shadow cabinet members now have far less respect for Starmer after the way he conducted his reshuffle and more for Rayner. Reshuffles often lead to leaders making enemies who skulk on the backbenches after a sacking. It's rather less common for them to create alternative power bases in the top team.