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Labour knives out as Starmer sacks party chair

Sir Keir Starmer: under attack

Labour is facing a new civil war after Sir Keir Starmer sacked Angela Rayner as party chairwoman and campaigns co-ordinator following the disastrous Hartlepool by-election result.

The Ashton-under-Lyne MP appeared to have taken the blame for the loss of a safe seat and swathes of council seats across England just hours after Sir Keir said he would personally take responsibility.

Ms Rayner was a key member of the Hard Left Jeremy Corbyn era but is also deputy leader, an elected position, and therefore beyond Sir Keir’s control.

She also represents a northern constituency, which added to growing accusations that the leadership is out of touch with its traditional supporters.

Andy Burnham, the former health secretary, who quit as an MP after losing the leadership to Mr Corbyn, criticised the party for being too ‘London-centric’.

In an interview with Sky after being returned as Greater Manchester mayor, 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.”

John McDonnell

John McDonnell: ‘cowardly avoidance of responsibility’ (pic: Terry Murden)

Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell also weighed in with criticism of the new leaderhip..

“Keir Starmer said yesterday that he took full responsibility for the election result in Hartlepool & other losses.

“Instead today he’s scapegoating everyone apart from himself. This isn’t leadership it’s a cowardly avoidance of responsibility.”

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