Keir Starmer slaps down Labour critics amid conference infighting

Keir Starmer slaps down Labour critics saying winning an election is more important than appeasing Corbynistas and mocks MPs who ‘vote over and over again and lose, and then tweet about it’ after frontbencher Andy McDonald quits in ‘deliberate sabotage’

  • The party leader lashed out at backbench keyboard warriors from the hard Left
  • Faces revolt over whether to back plans for a £15-per-hour minimum wage 
  •  Shadow minister Andy McDonald stepped down over the issue
  • Sir Keir attacked backbenchers happy to ‘vote and lose, and then tweet about it’
  • ‘I came into politics, to go into government to change millions of lives’
  • Keir Starmer took aim at his Labour critics today saying he was more interested in winning an election than keeping them happy.

    The party leader lashed out at figures from the hard Left who have vocally criticised the direction he is taking the opposition during its annual conference in Brighton. 

    Sir Keir is facing a major revolt over whether to back plans for a £15-per-hour minimum wage and was rocked by the resignation of a shadow minister last night over the issue. 

    Andy McDonald stepped down after being told to speaks against the plans, and was supported by former leader Jeremy Corbyn and associates including ex-shadow chancellor John McDonnell.

    But speaking to the BBC tonight, Mr Starmer was asked what was most important to him, unity within the party or winning. He replied: ‘Winning. Winning a general election.

    And in a swipe at the speed at which his critics leap onto social media, he added: ‘I didn’t come into politics to vote, over and over again in Parliament and lose, and then tweet about it. 

    ‘I came into politics, to go into government to change millions of lives for the better.’ 

    The party leader lashed out at figures from the hard Left who have vocally criticised the direction he is taking the opposition during its annual conference in Brighton.

    The party leader lashed out at figures from the hard Left who have vocally criticised the direction he is taking the opposition during its annual conference in Brighton.

    Andy McDonald stepped down after being told to speaks against the plans, and was supported by former leader Jeremy Corbyn and associates including ex-shadow chancellor John McDonnell

    Andy McDonald stepped down after being told to speaks against the plans, and was supported by former leader Jeremy Corbyn and associates including ex-shadow chancellor John McDonnell

    And McDonald said his position had been made 'untenable' by Sir Keir's refusal to support the dramatic hike.

    Mr McDonald's resignation letter

    And McDonald said his position had been made ‘untenable’ by Sir Keir’s refusal to support the dramatic hike.

    Sir Keir risked further damaging relations with the left of the party by opposing a £15-an-hour minimum wage – one key reason Mr McDonald cited in his resignation.

    He said he would not back a motion brought by the Unite union at the party conference in Brighton calling for a raise, instead sticking by plans to raise it to £10.

    Sir Keir was also refusing to reinstate the party whip to Mr Corbyn until he apologises for his controversial remarks in response to a report on antisemitism within the party.

    The leader denied he was happy to see the departure of Mr McDonald, the last ally of the former leader in his top team, and insisted he was incorrect to claim ‘our movement is more divided than ever’.

    Speaking to BBC News in Brighton, Sir Keir said: ‘He is wrong about that, but my focus is on how we get Labour into position to win a general election.’

    He defended the ‘tough decisions to change our party’, which included changing the rules to mean any future leadership contender would need greater support from Labour MPs, in a move seen as an attempt to shut out radical challengers.

    Sir Keir accepted ‘there will be some people who don’t agree with those changes’ but urged critics to ‘abide by them’.

    Labour sources have suggested there was no sense of sadness in the leader’s office to see Mr McDonald go.

    Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell tweeted: 'Andy McDonald has been a terrific Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights'

    Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell tweeted: ‘Andy McDonald has been a terrific Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights’








    But Sir Keir told Sky News: ‘I’m not happy to see him go, I thanked him.’

    Allies of the Labour leader had earlier hit out at ‘planned sabotage’ by the hard-Left as Mr McDonald dodged an event with Jeremy Corbyn in the wake of his resignation.

    The former shadow minister had been due to feature at a fringe event alongside the former leader after his dramatic departure as shadow employment secretary.

    However, he opted to return to London rather than be seen to ‘grandstand’ over his protest at Sir Keir refusing to back hiking the minimum wage to £15 an hour – from under £9 currently.

    Mr Corbyn denied that there was a ‘Machiavellian plot’ to oust Sir Keir, and urged activists to vote for the policy when it comes to the conference floor this afternoon.

    The leadership is hoping to ignore the motion table by unions, which is not binding.

    But angry left-wingers look determined to use it as an opportunity to vent their fury at Sir Keir after bitter rows over nationalisation and internal rule reforms.

    Shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said that his colleagues were ‘angry and frustrated’ about the row and accused Mr McDonald of resigning for effect rather than out of principle.

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