Labour is facing civil war over rail strikes as key MPs insist they will back industrial action


Labour is facing civil war over rail strikes as key MPs insist they will back industrial action while party leader Sir Keir Starmer is facing mounting pressure to condemn the militant union leaders

  • The Labour leader faced criticisms for failing to set a clear position on strikes 
  • The rail strikes could paralyse the country with three days planned next week
  • One senior Shadow Minister preparing for a ‘future leadership campaign’ 

 Labour descended into civil war last night over its ‘own goal’ response to impending rail strikes and a ‘lack of control’ at the heart of Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership.

Leading party moderates raged at the lack of grip in Sir Keir’s office, which was allowing frontbenchers to ‘freelance’ on key policy and risked presenting the party as pro-strikes.

One senior Shadow Minister even accused colleagues Lisa Nandy and Wes Streeting of appearing to prepare for a ‘future leadership campaign’ by pandering to Left-wing members sympathetic to strikes.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer faces pressure over looming rail strikes

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer faces pressure over looming rail strikes

The senior MP said: ‘Why are we giving the Tories this own goal? Can’t we see how badly this is going to play when the strikes happen and the Tories repeat this back?’

The row broke amid mounting pressure on Sir Keir to condemn militant rail union leaders threatening to paralyse the country with three days of strikes next week.

But criticisms that the Labour leader was failing to set out a clear position on strikes and control his frontbench have also fuelled doubts over his leadership.

That includes concerns over Sir Keir’s ability to beat a wounded Boris Johnson at the next General Election after he failed to capitalise on the massive Tory no-confidence rebellion last week. Even Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner has urged her boss to ‘put some more welly’ into his performances.

Critics are furious at how Ms Nandy and Mr Streeting – seen as the frontrunners to replace Sir Keir – were allowed to ‘freelance’ on Labour’s position on the strikes.

Levelling up spokeswoman Ms Nandy said Labour was ‘on the rail workers’ side’, while health spokesman Mr Streeting declared if he was an RMT rail union member, ‘I would be voting to go on strike’.

But one frontbench colleague said last night the tone of their remarks contradicted the Labour Party’s ‘official position’ of being ‘against the strikes’. He said: ‘You can’t have first one Shadow Cabinet member and then another able to freelance on an issue as big as this.’

But he blamed ‘lack of discipline and control’ in Sir Keir’s leadership for allowing the situation in the first place.

The Shadow Minister said: ‘It speaks to an absolute lack of necessary discipline at the heart of the operation if senior members of the Shadow Cabinet feel they can go around pitching to the members for a putative future leadership election when we’ve got a General Election to win first.’

A row broke out amid mounting pressure on Sir Keir to condemn militant rail union leaders threatening to paralyse the country with three days of strikes next week

A row broke out amid mounting pressure on Sir Keir to condemn militant rail union leaders threatening to paralyse the country with three days of strikes next week

And speaking after Labour grandee Peter Mandelson warned how Sir Keir had a year to put Labour within reach of an Election win, he also raised fears the party still lacked the big vision to appeal to voters. He said: ‘Until Labour can be crystal clear on what it’s for and what our vision of the country will be, then people will not come to us. And we haven’t done that yet.’

But a spokesman for Sir Keir said last night: ‘Nobody wants to see strikes and all the disruption they cause. We want them averted and urge everyone to come back around the table.’

A source close to Mr Streeting said: ‘Wes clearly said he doesn’t want the strike to go ahead. The Government is failing to negotiate a solution to protect passengers.’

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