Laura Kuenssberg delivers hammer blow to Keir Starmer – ‘You’re meant to be the boss!’

Jeremy Corbyn grilled on whether Keir Starmer should step down

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The Labour Party was thrown into turmoil last week due to grim electoral performances in Hartlepool, Scotland, English councils and even London. In an attempt to shore up his leadership, Sir Keir decided to reshuffle his shadow cabinet – something the BBC’s Political Editor described as a “very messy affair”. In a damning article detailing the changes at the top, Ms Kuenssberg implied the move was a mistake.

She noted opposition reshuffles “matter to the mood and atmosphere of parties and Parliament”, as the party needs to “give the impression of an organisation ready for government”.

She said: “Reshuffles are moments when leaders have a chance to assert their authority – to show they are in charge…

“Sir Keir Starmer’s first reshuffle, however, has been a very messy affair.”

The need for the reshuffle first emerged after his deputy Angela Rayner was ousted as party chair and national campaign co-ordinator in the wake of the poor election results.

Ms Kuenssberg noted there was a stark difference in how the two camps reported the news, with allies of Ms Rayner claiming she was sacked from the roll, while Sir Keir’s team said she was simply being moved.

She said: “They can’t both be telling the whole truth.”

The journalist went on to note how it took a whole day for the pair to agree on Ms Rayner’s next role, implying that Sir Keir’s leadership is waning.

Ms Kuenssberg said: “There was a late night howl of backlash to the notion she was being ousted, putting pressure on the leader to find a way to make her stay.

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“It took all day for the two to agree.

“That may seem astounding given that Sir Keir is meant to be the boss.”

She continued: “Whether it was settled in the end by an arm wrestle, a staring match, or screaming and shouting, the length of time it took created a massive vacuum – which Sir Keir’s critics on the left of the party filled, almost with glee, to push him for a change in direction.

“And even some of his backers felt anxious, cross about the delays, concerned about the competence of the so-called ‘brains trust’ – a nickname for his team of advisers, not always used in a very complimentary way.

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“After a day of dispute and delay, in the end, the list emerged.”

The reshuffle saw Ms Rayner stay in a prominent position, as she will now shadow Michael Gove.

She remains as deputy leader – as Sir Keir is unable to oust her from this role as she was directly elected to it by party members – but also takes on the roles of shadow first secretary of state, shadow chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster and shadow secretary of state for the future of work.

As a result, her allies suggest she was the one to come out on top, not the party leader.

Other notable changes in the reshuffle include the sacking of shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds who has been replaced by Rachel Reeves.

Ms Kuenssberg went on to criticise Sir Keir’s handling of the changes at the top, and said: “The election results were expected to be grim, but the handling of the reshuffle was a mess that could have been avoided – and a knock to his authority he didn’t need.”

In a statement, Sir Keir said: “The Labour Party must be the party that embraces the demand for change across our country.

“That will require bold ideas and a relentless focus on the priorities of the British people.

“Just as the pandemic has changed what is possible and what is necessary, so Labour must change too.”

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