Labour frontbencher Sam Tarry defies Keir Starmer’s order to stay away from rail picket lines

A Labour frontbencher has defied Sir Keir Starmer’s ban on joining the picket line in support of striking rail workers.

The Labour leader had again ordered his MPs to stay away, after failing to prevent some from joining the protests earlier this summer.

Shadow transport minister Sam Tarry stood alongside striking workers at London’s Euston station on Wednesday morning.

He told ITV News: "I’m here supporting these striking workers because it’s important we get a pay deal and get to resolve as soon as possible so the travelling public can get back to work.

"The reality is this is about a failing government, this is about dispute happening all across the country. We’ve got potentially doctors, nurses and communication workers.

"People are really struggling at the moment we got ten years of austerity and now we’ve got out of control inflation. People’s pay has not risen and people can’t afford to go about their daily business to even pay their bills."

Passengers at Waterloo train station as union members take part in a fresh strike over jobs, pay and conditions

The Ilford South MP claimed no one told him to stay away from the picket line as the strikes got underway.

"No one said anything to me about whether or not I should be on a picket line today," Mr Tarry said.

Asked whether he expects to be sacked by Sir Keir, Mr Tarry said: "I believe that if Keir Starmer was in Number 10 we wouldn’t have this dispute we would have given the right parameters to Network Rail and the train operating companies as Grant Shapps should be doing as a responsible Secretary of State for Transport to make sure this dispute is over - because it could be over very quickly," he added.

Sam Tarry criticised Tory leadership contestants Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss for "attacking trade unions" and urged them instead to "work out a sensible set of pay rises for workers".

Mr Tarry added: "It can’t be right in my constituency in the last couple of months in Ilford that our food bank ran out of food - people could not afford to donate, that is the state of modern 21st century Britain. People’s fuel bills are spiralling totally out of control.

"So today with striking rail workers who are not on a lot of money - let’s bust a few myths here - if you’re a safety critical worker at Network Rail the average salary is £25,000 to £30,000. In some ticket offices you could be on less than £25,000.

"If Labour were in power and I was Secretary of State for Transport this dispute would not be happening."

Sir Keir on Tuesday said he would again tell his frontbench MPs not to join striking workers in the latest strike, after several defied his orders during June’s industrial action.

Labour Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds said it is up to the whips to decide whether Mr Tarry loses his job for non-compliance.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...