Starmer faces furious Labour members backlash as Unite chief pulls rug under Party

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Unite boss Len McCluskey has warned Sir Keir Starmer not to move Labour too far from the left as the union moved to cut affiliation money. The union, which is Labour’s biggest financial donor, was understood to be reducing affiliation by about 10 percent after a vote of its executive on Tuesday. Mr McCluskey, an ally of Sir Keir’s predecessor Jeremy Corbyn, warned Unite’s multi-million pound funding could be cut if the new leader undertakes a too drastic change of course.

Ahead of the vote, Mr McCluskey told BBC Newsnight: “I have no doubt if things start to move in different directions and ordinary working people start saying, well, I’m not sure what Labour stands for.

“But I don’t see at the moment any dramatic move to disaffiliate from the Labour Party. The Labour Party is our party.”

However, he was particularly critical of Labour’s payout to whistleblowers over the party’s handling of anti-Semitism under Mr Corbyn.

“I think funding arrangements is undoubtedly an issue that may come up.

“There’s a lot of anger,” Mr McCluskey added.

It comes after the Labour leader was faced with a rebellion led by Jeremy Corbyn over a controversial new bill that could allow undercover agents to legally commit crimes in the Commons on Monday.

The Covert Human Intelligence Sources Criminal Conduct Bill was put before MPs on Monday, though it will have to return for further stages on October 15.

Sir Keir had ordered his party via a whip to abstain from voting while the party pushed for amendments to be made.

However, 20 MPs are reported to have defied this order and instead voted against the bill.

Jeremy Corbyn tweeted on Monday evening: “I have grave concerns regarding the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill.

“It could enable unnecessary and unlawful interference with the legitimate activities of trade unions, environmentalists, anti-racists & other campaigners.

“We must always stand up for human rights.”

Diane Abbott was one of the MPs who rebelled alongside Mr Corbyn.

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She said after the vote: “Pleased to have voted against the government’s #spycops bill. Abstention would have been wrong.

“Labour Party has to stick to its values. Can’t be neutral on undercover policing abuses.”

The bill was ultimately backed in this latest stage, however.

Proponents say it will give “sound legal footing” for undercover agents.

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