Keir Starmer faces revolt by union barons as they threaten to cut funding if Boris Johnson’s replacement calls a general election
- Ex shadow transport minister was sacked on Wednesday after joining picket line
- Sam Tarry said ‘dozens’ of Labour MPs are ‘really angry’ about what happened
- It comes as train drivers strike across country in latest bout of industrial action
Either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak will be anointed Prime Minister on September 5 and some observers believe they may try to call a General Election to consolidate their authority.
However, Keir Starmer’s stance on the summer rail strikes has inflamed a growing civil war in the party after he sacked Ilford South MP Sam Tarry – the partner of his deputy Angela Rayner – after Mr Tarry joined striking rail workers on a union picket line last week.
The strike row has already widened the gulf between Sir Keir and Ms Rayner, who is popular with Left-wing MPs.
It comes as Mr Tarry took fresh aim at the Labour leader as he said ‘dozens and dozens’ of Labour MPs want to follow his lead and join picket lines to show their support for strikers.
Sam Tarry said the apparent in-fighting in Labour was about being ‘clear about what the Labour party does actually stand for’ and said other Labour MPs wanted to join him.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s position is facing a revolt from union barons who are threatening to withhold election funding if Britain’s new Prime Minister calls a snap election
In a clip from ITV shared on his social media yesterday, when asked about the ro, Mr Tarry said: ‘It’s definitely not what I wish I was doing, absolutely not.
‘I don’t see this as a fight. I think it’s about being clear about what the Labour Party does actually stand for.
‘There are MPs in the Labour Party, not just me but dozens and dozens, well beyond what you might describe as left MPs, who are really angry.’
Sam Tarry, the partner of deputy leader Angela Rayner, was fired as a shadow transport minister last night for a ‘breach of collective responsibility’ after he joined workers in London
It has sparked a furious row between unions and the party hierarchy. Militant bosses have threatened to pull their funding and use their weight to alter party rules to force Labour to embrace workers planning a summer of discontent.
Since then, he has repeatedly goaded the Labour Leader by joining multiple picket lines across the capital.
On Friday, the Ilford South MP told striking BT staff it was ‘good to be back’ as he joined Communication Workers Union (CWU) members and Starmer’s predecessor Jeremy Corbyn in central London.
CWU general secretary Dave Ward said that the action taken by the Labour leadership was ‘disgraceful’.
But Sir Keir has said to be seen as fit to be a government the opposition should keep their distance from the strikes.
Aslef members stand on a picket line outside Paddington rail station joined by Mick Whelan Secretary-General and Sam Tarry MP for Ilford South and former Labour shadow minister
Joining another picket line at Paddington station in London on Saturday, the former shadow transport minister said it was ‘really important’ for Labour MPs to show their solidarity with striking workers.
It came as members of Aslef in seven train companies walked out for 24 hours, crippling services in many parts of the country.
Mr Tarry said: ‘I believe Keir Starmer is absolutely still the best person to become prime minister and I’ll be campaigning every day for a Labour government.’
He added that the Labour Party needed a ‘fundamental recalibration’ of its relationship with the trade union movement and needed to demonstrate it was on their side.
Sir Keir, who previously banned frontbenchers from joining picket lines, said Mr Tarry was sacked for booking himself onto media programmes without permission and making up policy ‘on the hoof’.
Mr Tarry also appeared alongside former party leader Jeremy Corbyn at a rally for striking BT workers on Friday.
Pictured: Ex-shadow chancellor John McDonnell (left) and Jeremy Corbyn (right), joined Communication Workers Union (CWU) members on the picket line at BT Tower on Friday
The Labour MP for Ilford South said: ‘We should never have been in a situation where we had an edict that you can’t join a picket line.
‘This is the Labour Party, the clue is in the name.
‘We are the party founded by the trade unions.’
He said the link between the union movement and the Labour Party is ‘indivisible’ and ‘part of the same fabric’.
Mr Tarry added: ‘For me to be here is about showing that the Labour Party and a massive majority of Labour Party members and MPs do support the striking workers.’
He said he had spoken to several MPs across the country who were backing the workers.
The Ilford South MP told striking BT staff it was ‘good to be back’ as he joined Communication Workers Union (CWU) members and the exiled former party leader in central London on Friday
In the latest outbreak of industrial unrest in the industry, members of the drivers union Aslef have walked out for 24 hours over pay today.
But the UK government says the average Aslef member earns almost £60,000 – double that of many NHS nurses and care workers.
Hitachi rail workers responsible for maintenance and repair for train companies and the railway network announced today they will strike for three days from Sunday in a row over pay and conditions.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) whose jobs include maintenance, are in dispute over pay and issues including breaks, leave entitlement and shift length.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘Our members know the value of their work and will not be short changed by Hitachi Rail.
‘I congratulate our members on this strong industrial response and RMT will support further stoppages until they receive a just settlement.’
Waterloo station in London was almost completely empty in London this morning as most passengers have opted not to travel by rail at all
13 trains stand in sidings near Ely in Cambridgeshire as rail services are brought to a halt on services including those run by East Anglia
Empty rail stations and dozens of stationary trains have been pictured across the UK on Saturday, with travellers expected to take to the roads instead.
The Rail Delivery Group, set up in 2011 to bring together the leadership of passenger, freight and high speed rail operators, said the industrial action has been specifically timed to coincide with the Games in Birmingham and the start of the new season for most English football league clubs.
With delays expected into tomorrow morning, the strike could also impact passengers heading to the women’s Euros final.
There will be disruption to parts of the rail network on Saturday and into the morning of Sunday.
The strike is mainly affecting English routes and impacts trains run by Arriva Rail London, Greater Anglia, Great Western, Hull Trains, LNER, Southeastern and West Midlands Trains.
Picket lines were mounted outside railway stations on Saturday, with Aslef saying they were receiving strong public support despite the disruption the strike was causing.
Empty train platforms at Paddington station today during industrial strike action as train drivers say they have had no pay increase since 2019
There will be no services on the London Overground network because of the strike on Arriva Rail London, and no Night Overground services on Saturday evening and the early hours on Sunday.
The firing of Mr Tarry, who is in a relationship with deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner, drew condemnation from unions, Labour MPs and other party figures.
Andy Burnham, the Labour mayor of Greater Manchester, warned that the party needs to be ‘careful’ that it does not end up undermining working people ‘fighting to protect their incomes’.
He told GB News: ‘Labour needs to be careful here. We can’t ever be a party that undermines working people fighting to protect their incomes and a cost-of-living crisis.
‘If we’re not careful, that’s how we might come over.’
Mr Corbyn, the former Labour leader and now independent MP, said: ‘I think the duty of Labour MPs is to support its affiliates. And the CWU is an affiliated union, they’ve asked for our help and support and I’m here today.’
Addressing the rally later, he added: ‘Our job is to unite everyone in this campaign for real social justice. It’s called socialism where you don’t leave anyone behind.’