Keir Starmer overhauls team as he faces Batley & Spen by-election woe

Desperate Keir Starmer overhauls his team of aides as he faces Batley & Spen by-election disaster with Tories bullish about smashing another hole in the Red Wall

  • Keir Starmer has overhauled his close team as he faces mounting Labour unrest
  • Party put in worst ever by-election showing in Chesham & Amersham last week
  • Tories increasingly bullish about taking Red Wall seat of Batley & Spen on July 1 

Keir Starmer has moved to overhaul his top team

Desperate Keir Starmer has moved to overhaul his top team as he faces disaster in the Batley & Spen by-election.   

Amid mounting panic in Labour ranks and chatter about a leadership challenge, Sir Keir has shifted his top adviser from the role of chief of staff – with key communications roles also changing.

Morgan McSweeney will move to a ‘strategic role’ with less of a focus on day-to-day activities, a party source said.

The changes emerged after the dismal result in the Chesham and Amersham by-election – where Labour recorded its worst ever performance with just 1.64 per cent of the vote.

Defeat in Hartlepool last month send shockwaves through the party, and Tories are increasingly bullish about dealing another huge blow to the so-called ‘Red Wall’ by taking Batley and Spen on July 1.

The sister of murdered MP Jo Cox sister, Kim Leadbeater, is the Labour candidate for her old Yorkshire seat.

But polls have suggested she is on track to lose the contest comfortably.

The by-election has been triggered by incumbent Tracy Brabin standing down to become the new mayor of West Yorkshire. She had a majority of 3,500 in 2019.

Sir Keir and a host of senior figures have been campaigning with Ms Leadbeater in the constituency, while Boris Johnson has also visited.  

One senior Labour MP mocked the ‘great strategists’ and ’20-somethings’ who have been ‘flouncing around’ running Sir Keir office.

They also told MailOnline that Ms Brabin should never have been allowed to stand for West Yorkshire mayor.  

‘I don’t know why they called the by-election, why they didn’t leave it a few months,’ the MP said.

Boris Johnson visited Batley & Sped last week as the battle ramps up ahead of July 1

Labour recorded its worst ever by-election performance in Chesham and Amersham last week with just 1.64 per cent of the vote

‘She shouldn’t have been allowed to stand in the first place. She should have been told, ”you can’t”.’

A Survation phone poll released last week showed the were on 47 per cent in Batley & Spen – up 11 per cent from the 2019 general election – while Labour was on 43 per cent.

The change of role for Mr McSweeney, who helped Sir Keir on his successful campaign to replace Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, came after the party ended up fourth in Chesham and Amersham on Thursday.

Labour secured just 622 votes in the by-election, losing its deposit.

Polling expert Sir John Curtice said it was the ‘worst Labour performance in any by-election’.

A Labour source: ‘Morgan remains Keir’s number one adviser. He is staying on, staying in the top team and staying in LOTO (the Leader of the Opposition’s Office) focusing on getting Labour election-ready for 2023.’

Communications director Ben Nunn announced he was standing down from the role following Thursday’s performance, but told colleagues he remained convinced Sir Keir ‘will be a great prime minister’.

Scrutiny of Sir Keir’s leadership will intensify if he loses Batley and Spen, having overseen the crushing defeat to the Tories in the former heartland town of Hartlepool last month. 

Sir Keir and a host of senior figures have been campaigning with Kim Leadbeater (right) in the constituency

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