Sir Keir Starmer‘s row with Angela Rayner exploded after the Labour leader’s ‘snobby’ and ‘sexist’ top team complained about her wearing leopard-print trousers, stomper boots and a hoodie on a visit to Hartlepool before the crucial by-election, it was claimed today.
His leadership has been plunged into crisis as he faced a furious backlash over his sacking of deputy leader Ms Rayner, 41, whose supporters claim she has been written off as a ‘working class oik and a bit thick’ instead of an asset who connects with working class voters.
Ms Rayner’s team is said to have ‘hit the roof’ over the complaints about her outfits, which have won some praise, especially her love of bovver boots such as Dr Martens, which she has worn regularly for official visits, party conferences and at the Commons’ despatch box.
The straight-talking Mancunian is also known to wear open-heeled studded mules with fishnets to show off the rose tattoo on her ankle and another floral one inked on her foot.
While the MP for Ashton under Lyne’s long and loosely waved red hair with fashionable ‘bangs’ is also popular, so much so voters in her Greater Manchester constituency are said to have shown hairdressers her photo so they can have the same style.
But civil war has broken out over her sacking, with one of the sparks said to be her love of wearing high street fashion while out on party business. There were also raised eyebrows when she washed down chips and gravy with a pint while campaigning ahead of the local elections.
One source told The Guardian: ‘It’s a clear mistake to fire someone who speaks like the people we need to talk to. It’s a huge mistake from a bunch of snobs who don’t like how she speaks.’ Another added that she was unpopular with Labour top brass who believe she is a ‘working-class oik and a bit thick’ because she doesn’t put up with their ‘patronising Camden style’. Others on social media said she is a victim of sexism.
Ms Rayner’s team was furious after Jim McMahon, who ran the by-election campaign, complained about photographs used in a campaign leaflet, showing her in leopard-print trousers, heavy boots and a bright coloured hoodie in Hartlepool on March 21 (pictured)
Ms Rayner’s team is said to have ‘hit the roof’ over the complaints about her clothing and shoes, which has won her some praise, especially her love of bovver boots and her hair, having shunned the long bob that many female politicians prefer
Ms Rayner, who became a mother at 16 and has a red rose tattoo on her ankle and another floral design on her foot, is a victim of a campaign by ‘snobs’ in Labour, her supporters claim
Throughout the last few months, Angela has been snapped showing off her bold fashion choices, with the MP regularly stepping out in clashing colorful outfits, striking punk patterns, and unusual shoes (pictured left, in a tartan pair of Dr Martens boots in January and right, wearing a pair of flatforms last month)
Angela Rayner was a major supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, whose own supporters insisted she was not right wing enough
Sir Keir, a former director of public prosecutions, is rarely seen wearing anything but a suit
Sir Keir is the London lawyer and Remain flagbearer whose socialist parents names him after Labour’s founding hero.
Angela is a former Stockport teenage single mother and child carer who hauled herself up the political ladder through sheer hard work in her community, after caring for her mother from the age of 10 and having a baby six years later.
Last July it emerged that Ms Rayner had split from husband Mark after a decade. She was 16 when she gave birth to Ryan, the eldest of their two children.
It is not known if she has found love again, but The Sun claimed she had become ‘increasingly close’ to former Labour campaign chief Sam Tarry, 38.
Yesterday Sir Keir Starmer removed his deputy from her roles as party chairman and national campaign co-ordinator following Labour’s catastrophic local election results. But it backfired so badly that within hours she had been handed a new 24-word job title her team insisted amounted to a promotion.
The pair met for a cup of tea in public this afternoon but relations between Sir Keir and Angela are said to have been poor for up to a year but exploded on March 21 as Labour started its failed campaign to win in Hartlepool.
In 2015, Angela caused controversy after she became so incensed at missing out on a limited edition pair of Star Wars shoes she complained on Commons headed notepaper (pictured, Angela’s choice of shoe)
Amid growing acrimony, the Labour frontbencher who ran the by-election campaign that ended in humiliation on Thursday has now been forced to deny that he had made disparaging comments about Mrs Rayner’s casual appearance during a visit.
An aide to shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said he had merely suggested a different photograph of her was used on a leaflet because he believed the one chosen was not flattering – but the Guardian claimed McMahon complained to the leadership team that the deputy leader had been ‘dressed inappropriately’.
And in a further sign of the bitter war at the heart of the party, her opponents leaked details of Ms Rayner’s use of first class rail tickets to the Sunday Times – with her allies hitting back to claim she only did so for safety reasons after the murder of Sarah Everard.
Labour sources claim it is because she is a working class woman who has never got on with Starmer’s ‘patronising’ team after she backed her friend and flatmate Rebecca Long-Bailey for the Labour leadership.
Their backgrounds couldn’t be more different.
Pictured, wearing a bold pair of patent red boots with a more-conventional style workwear dress during the Labour Party Conference in 2019
Ms Rayner has previously told how having son Ryan (pictured together) so young ‘saved’ her, teaching her to be ‘tough and motivated’. He has since become a dad, making her a grandmother at 36
The Labour leaders taking a knee for Black Lives Matter, including Ms Rayner in goth-inspired heavy boots.
Sir Keir’s attempt to quietly remove her as party chairman as a scapegoat for the electoral catastrophies in Hartlepool, the Tees valley and the West Midlands blew up at the weekend and arguably helped increase her power within the party.
Allies of Jeremy Corbyn threatened to oust Sir Keir Starmer as Labour leader last night as civil war broke out in the party over attempts to remove Ms Rayner
Both have some things in common, coming from humble backgrounds and being relative newcomers in the Commons. They both entered the House in the 2015 election that saw Ed Miliband defeated by David Cameron to form the first full Tory government since 1997.
But they have since led very different career paths and their relationship has deteriorated over the past year, according to party insiders, with a furious briefing war taking place after the defeats at the weekend.
Sir Keir Starmer has told his shadow cabinet that he took full responsibility for Labour’s defeat in the Hartlepool by-election.
The Labour leader met his reshuffled top team at Westminster on Monday for the first time following the party’s losses in last week’s election.
Sources said Sir Keir told them there was no escaping the scale of the defeats which said ‘something profound about the size of the journey we have to go’.
He was said to have told the meeting: ‘To be clear, I take responsibility. Nobody else. I lead the Labour Party and it is entirely on me.’
Sir Keir said that deputy leader Angela Rayner had ‘a big, new role, taking the fight to the Tories’.
Allies of Jeremy Corbyn threatened to oust Sir Keir Starmer as Labour leader last night as civil war broke out in the party.
His leadership was plunged into crisis as he faced a furious backlash over his sacking of Angela Rayner.
Sir Keir removed his deputy from her roles as party chairman and national campaign co-ordinator following Labour’s catastrophic local election results.
But his decision prompted a fresh wave of infighting, with senior figures including Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham warning him that it was ‘wrong’.
The toxic row came after Labour received a drubbing, losing control of a host of councils and suffering defeat at the hands of the Conservatives in the Hartlepool by-election – the first time the North East constituency had gone blue since its inception in the 1970s.
Angela, with a rucksack and hooded coat complete with fur collar, speaks to Labour supporters in London in 2019
The Labour leader was expected to carry out a reshuffle of his frontbench team last night, with shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds among those facing the axe. On Saturday afternoon, Sir Keir met Mrs Rayner to tell her she would be stripped of her role running the party’s elections.
It is understood the pair have endured a difficult relationship behind closed doors in recent months, with the leader’s inner circle believing she has been behind a series of poisonous briefings.
Those close to Sir Keir have voiced disappointment that she has not acted like a ‘John Prescott figure’ – Tony Blair’s long-time deputy – as they hoped she would, and have accused her of sowing disunity during his 13 months as leader. After news of Mrs Rayner’s sacking was made public on Saturday night, some Starmer supporters raised suspicions she had leaked the news to provoke a row that would boost her future leadership chances.
In an attempt to calm the row, the Labour leader’s allies yesterday insisted she had not been sacked and had been offered another role.
Appearing on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme, the party’s Scotland spokesman Ian Murray said: ‘Angela Rayner has been offered a significant promotion to take her from the back office of the Labour party running elections to the front office where she is talking to the country.’
But prominent figures in Labour continued to speak out against the decision to remove her as chairman.
Jon Trickett, an MP on the Left of the party who served in Mr Corbyn’s frontbench team, said: ‘I don’t think we should rule out a leadership challenge.’ Appearing on an online show hosted by political commentator Owen Jones, he claimed Sir Keir’s leadership victory was based on ‘deceit’, as he had promised to keep policies drawn up under his predecessor.
Mr Trickett, who was chairman of rival Rebecca Long-Bailey’s leadership campaign, said local constituency parties were talking about holding votes of no confidence.
Kim Johnson, who previously acted as a parliamentary aide to Mrs Rayner, told the same programme that Sir Keir had ‘thrown her under the bus’, despite saying he would take responsibility for the election result. ‘I was just outraged’, she said. ‘I was disgusted in terms of how Keir treated her.’
John McDonnell, the former shadow chancellor, said he was ‘not into leadership coups’, but warned Sir Keir the party would block any attempt by him to move away from Mr Corbyn’s legacy. He said: ‘If we have to fight it, we’ll fight it in every branch, in every trade union, in every meeting, at every conference.’
Former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said the decision to sack Mrs Rayner was ‘baffling’ and ‘puzzling’.
‘We’ve not heard anywhere in the country people saying they didn’t vote Labour because of Angela Rayner,’ she told Sky News.
Grangela v Sir Keir: Row between the smooth-talking self-made London lawyer and the Mancunian former single mother
The relationship between Sir Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner is threatening to tear the party apart yet again as faultlines between the hard Left and moderate wings are re-exposed.
Angela Rayner’s socialist credentials were forged by a tough upbringing as a carer to her bipolar mother aged just 10 before becoming pregnant with the first of her three children at the age of 16.
The flame-haired 41-year-old has drawn on her experience as a one-time struggling teenage mother throughout her political career.
She proudly welcomed her own granddaughter at the age of just 37 in 2017 with a tweet jokingly referring to herself as ‘Grangela’ after son Ryan Ryan became a father to baby Lilith Mae.
Ms Rayner was just 16 when she had Ryan, and has told how becoming pregnant so young ‘saved’ her.
She has two other sons aged under 10, Jimmy and Charlie, who was born at 23 weeks and is registered blind.
She says Charlie would not be alive today without the NHS.
Her teenage relationship with Ryan’s father ended quickly and married Unison official Mark Rayner. But they split up last summer.
She also acted as a carer to her mother, Lynn Bowen, when just a child.
In 202 she opened up about her tough early life, revealing she once had to have her sectioned to prevent her from self-harming.
In a joint interview with ITV News, Ms Bowen credits her daughter with saving her, saying she would not have survived without her.
‘I was in a very dark place, she used to bath me, look after me, feed me,’ Ms Bowen said of her daughter.
‘If it wasn’t for her I don’t think I’d be here today.’
Ms Rayner was only elected to Parliament as the Labour MP for Ashton-under-Lyne for the first time in 2015 but she has swiftly risen up the ranks to national prominence.
It did not take long for her to be welcomed to the Labour frontbench under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn as she was made shadow education secretary in 2016.
She became one of Mr Corbyn’s most vocal defenders, both in the House of Commons and on the airwaves, before the party sank to its disastrous general election defeat in December 2019.
She swiftly launched a bid for the party’s deputy leadership in the aftermath of the car crash poll, standing on a so-called hard-left ‘dream ticket’ with Westminster housemate and former frontbencher Rebecca Long-Bailey who put herself forward for the top job.
However, unlike Ms Long-Bailey, who rated Mr Corbyn’ leadership 10/10, she was unafraid to criticise him.
In February 2020 she said he failed as Labour leader because he ‘didn’t command respect’ and had not been able to unite the party.
She also insisted she could succeed where Mr Corbyn had struggled because she ‘resonates with people in the country in a way that Jeremy doesn’t’.
Sir Keir Starmer
His downbeat wardrobe is in contrast with the colourful style of outfits preferred by his deputy
Sir Keir Starmer was raised by socialist parents who named him after Keir Hardie, the Labour leader’s founder and a colossus of the socialist movement.
He is married to Victoria, who works in the NHS, and they have two children.
In Who’s Who he refers to his parents Rodney and Josephine Starmer as ‘Rod and Jo’.
During his leadership campaign and afterwards he was at pains to describe his father as a toolmaker and Jo formerly a nurse before suffering from a physical disability.
As well as devoting themselves to rescuing donkeys, Rod and Jo had four children. Sir Keir’s three siblings went to comprehensive school while he passed his 11-plus and went to Reigate Grammar School.
The shadow minister has said about his happy home life that ‘whenever one of us left home, they were replaced with a donkey’.
He then went on to become the first member of his family to go to University. He studied law at Leeds and did a post-graduate degree at St Edmund Hall Oxford, before joining the Middle Temple chambers of Sir John Mortimer, the late barrister and novelist.
He went on to specialise in defending in human rights cases and became a Queen’s Counsel (QC) in 2002.
Just six years later, and despite being a defence specialist, he was made director of public prosecutions (DPP), the head of the Crown Prosecution Service.
Cases he oversaw included the prosecution of then Lib Dem Cabinet minister Chris Huhne for perverting the course of justice.
He held the post until 2013 and was subsequently knighted in 2014 for his service in the role.
He held Holborn and St Pancras for Labour in 2015 after its MP, the late Frank Dobson, retired.
Under predecessor Jeremy Corbyn he was shadow Brexit secretary, but did not often appear to be onthe same wavelength as the party leader.
While Mr Corbyn was a Brexiteer of decades longstanding, Sir Keir was a vocal cheerleader for the majority Remain faction within Labour.
This led to many of the more leftwing figures within the party to accuse him of undermining the hard Left leader, by vocally championing the softest of Brexits, and a second referendum.
After Labour’s humiliation in the 2019 General Election led to Mr Corbyn quitting, Sir Keir ran to replace him on a moderate, unifying platform. He comfortably beat Corbynite candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey to take charge in April.
He attempted to keep the Left onside by giving shadow Cabinet posts to Ms Long-Bailey and a few other survivors of the previous regime. But he is unable to remove Ms Rayner as the deputy leader is elected by party members just as he is.
Like Mr Corbyn, he is an Arsenal fan.
Pioneering political punk or not bovvered? Stylists give their verdict on Angela Rayner’s very unique sense of style and love of clumpy boots
Angela Rayner’s unique sense of style and love of clumpy boots show the politician’s ‘doesn’t want to be seen as a typical middle-class politician’ and her confidence in her own ability, stylists have revealed.
The Labour MP, 41, from Stockport, was sacked in her roles as by party chairman and national campaign co-ordinator over the weekend after a disappointing set of election results for Keir Starmer.
However reports have emerged the pair have been clashing for months, with The Guardian stating Oldham MP Jim McMahon, who ran the Hartlepool by-election campaign, complained to the leader’s office that Angela had been ‘dressed inappropriately’ on a visit to the town on March 21.
Photographs from the date show the MP in leopard-print trousers, heavy black boots and a bright pink hoodie for the occasion.
And it’s not the first time that Angela has been snapped showing off her bold fashion choices, with the MP regularly stepping out in clashing colorful outfits, striking punk patterns, and unusual shoes.
Experts told FEMAIL Angela has been ‘showing off her personality’ with the outfits and ‘could still command authority’ despite her unusual fashion choices.
Angela Rayner’s unique sense of style and love of clompy boots show the politician’s ‘personality’ and her confidence in her own ability, stylists have revealed (pictured, wearing an outfit reportedly deemed ‘inappropriate’ by Oldham MP Jim McMahon)
Celebrity stylist Rochelle White said the 41-year-old, who left school aged 16 whilst pregnant and without any qualifications, proved politicians don’t have to opt for safe or traditional choices when it comes to their wardrobe.
She revealed: ‘I think that Angela’s style shows that she is comfortable in herself to rock her own fashion style.
Speaking to The Guardian in 2012, Angela said people ‘underestimated her’ and thought ‘she was stupid’ because she was a ‘pretty young woman’.
She said: ‘I’m not stupid and most people know that now, but I still like to be underestimated because it gives me an edge. It gives me a bit of stealth.’
Stylist Rochelle said the 41-year-old proved politicians don’t have to opt for safe or traditional choices when it comes to their wardrobe (pictured, in a vibrant green jacket with a tartan skirt)
As she returned to the Houses of Parliament in Westminster last year on the first day that MPs return from recess, the MP wore a bright red sailor style dress which she coordinated with her phone cover
Rochelle said the rebellious attitude was reflected in her wardrobe, revealing: ‘I don’t feel that because she is a politician she needs to dress so seriously all the time in plain suits.’
‘She can still command her authority in whatever she wears.’
Meanwhile Rochelle also revealed the MP’s choice to wear the bold outfit while campaigning could have actually benefited her cause.
The politician, who once described herself as a ‘gobby northern ginger lass’, has ditched the stuffy grey suits or simple shift dresses, for a bolder style, with clashing colours, bright pink ankle socks and tartan skirts.
She said: ‘I feel that her looks and fashion choices show her personality.’
‘It makes her relatable to the general public and, in a way, makes her approachable in a way that people feel comfortable with her.
And her preference for vibrant colours and prints isn’t anything new. In 2016, Angela wore a lime green jacket during a keynote speech at the Labour party conference
Angela regularly opts for monochrome outfits with a pop of vibrant red, a choice which would normally be associated with a punk or gothic style of dressing (Pictured, at the Labour Party Conference in 2018)
‘I don’t feel that she wants to be seen as a typical middle-class politician who is used to being seen in court shoes and shift dresses.’
And as her profile has risen at Westminster, she has been unafraid to tone down her outfit choices.
At the Labour party conference in 2016, she took to the stage in fluorescent lime green jacket.
And when she returned to the Houses of Parliament in Westminster last year on the first day that MPs return from recess, she wore a bright red sailor style dress which she coordinated with her phone cover.
Pictured, wearing a bold pair of patent red boots with a more-conventional style workwear dress during the Labour Party Conference in 2019
Rochelle suggested Angela’s wardrobe choices indicated she ‘doesn’t want to be seen as a typical middle-class politician’ in ‘court shoes and shift dresses’ (pictured left and right, on the campaign trail wearing leopard print creepers)
The 41-year-old was snapped in a bold black and white striped jumper dress while attending the House of Commons last year
Meanwhile she clashed the garment with a bold black-and-white checkered backpack.
Even when wearing what could be seen as a more conventional outfit, the politician often adds a touch of her own flare with a pair of heels.
When meeting campaigners, councillors and the relatives of care home residents in Nottingham last month, she opted for a blue knee-length coat, but added a clash of colour with her red polkadot heels.
And when visiting Birmingham, she showcased a smart white coat with leather detailing with a pair of black leopard print sneakers with striking white laces.
The politician appears to have a love of bold and unusual shoes, regularly stepping out wearing ‘flatforms and creepers, which tend to be popular with goth and punks.
She has pairs in many different styles, including a black pair featuring a leopard print upper which she wore in April for a visit to Hartlepool College of Further Education.
Meanwhile she donned a similar pair of flatform shoes, which wouldn’t have looked out of place in the 90s, during a visit to Manchester with Sir Keir Starmer last month.
The MP also owns a selection of Dr Marten boots, including a tartan pair which she wore in January with a vibrant red coat and white shirt.
Rather than stuffy grey suits or simple shift dresses, the politician opts for bolder style, with clashing colours, bright pink ankle socks and tartan skirts
In 2015, Angela caused controversy after she became so incensed at missing out on a limited edition pair of Star Wars shoes she complained on Commons headed notepaper.
She believed her name had been on a pre-order list for the Irregular Choice shoe, but wasn’t notified when the shoes went on sale, so she wrote a letter of complaint to the head office on House of Commons notepaper.
In the letter, which was later leaked, Angela wrote: ‘I have only ever brought your shoes and I am loathed to do so again [sic].
‘I am writing to let you know that treating customers in that way will only cost you more in the long term.’
Even when wearing a more conventional outfit, the politician often adds a touch of her own flare with a pair of heels (pictured left, meeting with campaigners, councillors and the relatives of care home residents in Sandiacre near Nottingham, and right, visiting Birmingham)
The red mid-heel peep-toes featuring polka-dot and cherry prints sunk into the grass during her visit
Angela’s aides were said to have ‘hit the roof ‘ when they heard about the comment from MP McMahon, but kept it from her to avoid fuelling the problems even further.
Angela is far from the first politician to have been in the headlines over her unusual style choices.
During her time as Prime Minister, Theresa May would often attract attention due to her choice of bold and colourful kitten heels.
Her shoes had first made headlines at a party conference, when she wore a pair of £110 leopard-print heels
Russell & Bromley quickly sold out and May — later credited with the revival of kitten heels — became the shoe queen of British politics.