Angela Rayner appears blindsided as Sir Keir Starmer launches Labour reshuffle during speech

Labour reshuffle Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner appears to have been blindsided by a shadow cabinet reshuffle taking place as she delivered a key speech on standards.

Party leader Sir Keir Starmer launched his overhaul as the Shadow Secretary of State gave a speech on standards in public life to the Institute for Government.

The MP for Ashton-under-Lyne said she had not been aware the move was happening and had not been consulted.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer announced the reshuffle after Ms Rayner's speech. Credit: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

After Ms Rayner’s speech, Labour shadow Cabinet member Cat Smith confirmed the reshuffle, confirmed her resignation and return to the backbenches.

Following the speech, a spokesperson for Sir Keir confirmed a reshuffle was under way.

Ms Rayner said she did not “know the details of any reshuffle” but that “we need some consistency in how we’re approaching things as an opposition”.

“I’ve been concentrating on the job that I’m doing,” she added. And she said that everything the Labour Party should be doing was focusing on getting into power.

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner listens as Sir Keir Starmer speaks during a press conference. Credit: PA

A spokesperson for Ms Rayner later said that she had a short conversation with Sir Keir between her morning media interviews.

She said her IfG event and that she was aware there may be a reshuffle.

He added: “She was not aware of the details of the reshuffle and she was not consulted on the reshuffle.”

In a letter to Sir Keir, Ms Smith the MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood wrote: “Thank you for your call this morning and for outlining your intentions regarding the reshuffle.

“It has been an honour to serve in the Shadow Cabinet since June 2016 and on the Labour front bench since September 2015.

“Although I am grateful for your offer to remain in my current brief, I have only been on the backbenches for four months in my six and a half years as an MP and I will instead be returning to the backbenches.”

She warned Sir Keir about the “damage” Labour was suffering because former leader Jeremy Corbyn is not being re-admitted to the party.

Cat Smith Credit: PA

Her letter said: “You will be aware that we had a meeting scheduled for later this week, during which I wanted to raise the issue of, and my concerns about, Jeremy not being readmitted to the Parliamentary Labour Party after he was readmitted into our party membership following due process.

“This position is utterly unsustainable and it is important that you truly understand how much damage this is causing in Constituency Labour Parties and amongst ordinary members, a number of whom are no longer campaigning.”