Lisa Nandy has dismissed speculation that Keir Starmer would hire a successor to lead the party if he is forced to retire as “absolute nonsense”.
Nandy, the shadow level secretary who is often touted as a future Labor leader, said she has not spoken to Starmer about plans to secure a replacement should Durham Constabulary fine him for breaking Covid rules.
Despite insisting he hasn’t broken any rules, the Labor leader has promised to resign if he faces a firm fine over a takeaway beer and curry he ordered from activists in the city last year .
Nandy was responding to reports in the Sunday Times that Starmer – who has grappled with negative headlines and briefings for days – has told potential rivals to use campaign teams to continue to ensure his work in rebuilding the party is not wasted.
According to the newspaper, Starmer told allies: “I will not allow this party to become a basket again. I will not allow our hard-won gains to go to waste, so we need to be prepared for the off chance that the worst happens.”
But asked about the Sky News report, Nandy said she had only spoken to Starmer twice in the last few days about “how we are going to get this government to lift a finger to avert a crisis on the railways”.
Host Sophy Ridge joked, “Are you a little concerned that he was speaking to Wes Streeting and not you?”
Nandy replied: “No, I’m not worried that he has spoken to anyone about succession planning because I know he has spoken to all of us about how we can liberate this country from a government that has killed us for the last 12 years years and finally starting to work for working people – that’s the conversation we’re having in the Labor Party right now.”
And when asked separately on Times Radio if she was planning her own behind-the-scenes leadership bid, Nandy said, “That’s not true. Not true at all. I haven’t hosted any fundraising dinners, I haven’t started any kind of leadership offering.
“The only job I’m aiming for at the moment is Michael Gove’s and I’m determined to get it. Not because of my desires for myself, but because I am ambitious for this country. And I know we could do better.”
The Labor Party confirmed on Friday that both Starmer and Deputy Leader Angela Rayner have now returned their questionnaires to Durham Constabulary.
The prospect of a looming fine is just the latest problem for Starmer.
The Labor leader has endured days of negative headlines and briefings from members of his own shadow cabinet who have accused him of “boring voters to death”.
One told the Times: “Is he exciting? No, of course not – that’s not why we ended up with him.
“But there’s a big difference between not being Mr. Razzmatazz and boring everyone to death. . . For many of my constituents, it just doesn’t exist in their minds.”
In return, Starmer had to tell his shadow cabinet not to inform the press that he was boring, in return for which a colleague called him “ironically very boring”.
However, Starmer was defended by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who told him to “ignore” the negative briefings against him.
Asked by BBC Sunday Morning what his advice would be for the Labor leader, Brown replied: “Ignore that because the exciting thing about the possibility of Keir Starmer leading is that he will have a plan for Britain.
“It will show how we can regain growth, it will show how we can get living standards back up, and it will show how we can have a fairer society that deals with climate change.
“Keir Starmer was the head of the district attorney’s office. He’s been a great civil servant for many years and I think he’s going to be a great prime minister.”
Next week, Starmer will be put to the test in a key by-election in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, where the former Tory MP was forced to resign after his conviction for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy.
Recent polls put Labor 20 points clear of the Tories for the June 23 contest.
But internal polls, cited in the Sunday Times, suggest the lead could actually be as little as around eight points.
https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/lisa-nandy-rejects-rumours-of-keir-starmer-succession-planning-as-absolute-nonsense_uk_62aee78de4b06594c1d762d3 Lisa Nandy Rejects Rumours Of Keir Starmer Succession Planning As ‘Absolute Nonsense’