Angela Rayner backs Sir Keir Starmer over shadow minister's sacking for strike action

Angela Rayner has said she supports Sir Keir Starmer’s decision to sack her partner, Sam Tarry, after he joined striking rail workers on a picket line last month.

The Labour deputy leader said her boss was “completely within his rights” to choose his shadow ministerial team and that she respected his decision in this case.

It is the first time Ms Rayner has spoken about the sacking of Mr Tarry, who was serving as a junior shadow transport minister under Sir Keir at the time of the incident.

The MP for Ilford South, who is in a relationship with Ms Rayner, said he had been sacked for "joining a picket line" with striking workers at London's Euston station.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner (centre) and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar during a visit to a Norwood House Nursery, a Kidzcare childcare facility, in Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

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This was in defiance of Sir Keir’s order for his frontbench MPs to stay away from such protests, but the Labour leader later disputed this was why he had been sacked.

Instead, he said he had been compelled to remove him from his post for doing media interviews "without permission" and "making up policy on the hoof".

Ms Rayner was asked for her reaction to Mr Tarry’s sacking during a trip to Edinburgh, where she visited a nursery yesterday alongside Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar.

She replied: “Keir Starmer is the leader of the Labour Party. It's completely within his rights to choose his front bench and he has the right to do so. And that's between him and his front bench.”

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Asked if the Labour leader had informed her before sacking Mr Tarry, she replied: “I'm not going to get into discussions that I have with Keir Starmer as deputy leader and him as the leader – but Keir is the leader of the Labour Party.

“It's not unusual for the leader of the Labour Party to decide who his front bench is. That's his decision and I respect that he has the right to make that decision.”

During her visit, Ms Rayner also warned many households around the UK “will not be able to pay” their energy bills in October when the price cap is expected to increase again.

There have been suggestions some customers are planning to cancel their direct debits and refuse to pay their bills, but Ms Rayner said many would not even have that choice.

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“Some people may think that's the choice for them now, but a lot of people are absolutely petrified about how they're going to pay their bills – it's not going to be a choice for them come October, when they see that bill drop, and they see how big that bill has jumped from where they are now and they're already struggling.

“So I don't think it's a choice that many people are going to be making. I think it's going to be absolutely devastating for many families and many pensioners who will not be able to pay.”

Labour’s deputy leader also said it was “disgraceful” that Boris Johnson was refusing to intervene on the cost-of-living crisis in his final weeks as Prime Minister.

Mr Johnson, who is expected to leave office in September, has ruled out new measures until a successor had been chosen, with his spokesman saying this was for “a future Prime Minister”.

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Addressing Mr Johnson, Ms Rayner said: “He’s carried on and said he needed to stay on until September. Well, where are you? How dare you let people down when they need you so much?

“They voted and elected you and you’ve literally just laughed at them when they need your support right now.”

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