By election fall-out

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’.

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