Will Keir Starmer be replaced? Labour leader under fire after Hartlepool defeat

Laura Kuenssberg predicts 'days of strife' for Keir Starmer

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Conservatives have stripped another brick from Labour’s so-called “Red Wall” in the north, as Hartlepool flipped following yesterday’s by-election. Jill Mortimer now leads the historically Labour constituency with a majority of 6,940 votes. The story is much the same for many other councils across England, where Conservatives continue to surge forward despite the promise of change with the opposition’s new leadership.

Will Keir Starmer be replaced?

Despite a surge in popularity as he claimed Labour leadership, Sir Keir has exacerbated rifts within the party.

Many MPs claimed party leadership under Corbyn was to blame for their 2019 defeat and hailed the ex-barrister as vital for retooling Labour towards a centrist “electable” platform.

But the latest rash of defeats amid accusations of Tory cronyism and pandemic mishandling shows the change of tack isn’t bearing fruit.

And this has left a bad taste in the mouths of many Labour supporters.

Some party supporters have called to oust the incumbent leader, with the hashtag #StarmerOut trending on Twitter.

One user on the platform said: “Labour lost the #HartlepoolByElection and that should be a resignation offense [sic] for Keir Starmer.”

Another added: “No policies, no heart, no point. He’s unelectable.”

A third said: “Could this be the first time in history where the voters concentration around the country is to vote tactically to remove the Leader – of the OPPOSITION.”

Another added: “If the forecasts for Tory and SNP gains are correct, the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs need to do one crucial thing. Launch a leadership challenge against Keir Starmer.”

One posted: “I agree with the #StarmerOut campaign but frankly getting rid of him is not enough. Rather we need an almost total clearout of “Centrist” MPs in the Party who are only in politics for their own career and spend more life going after the Left than holding the Tories to account.”

A Twitter user posted: “You may not like Jeremy Corbyn or his policies, but at least you knew what he believed in. What does the current empty shell of a Labour leader actually stand for?”

Keir Starmer would have to quit for Labour members to hold a new leadership race, and there is no sign of this happening – yet.

But with the Tories winning Hartlepool for the first time, bookies Ladbrokes say its a 4/1 shot that Starmer remains in charge for the rest of this year, but is out of a job in 2022.

Jessica O’Reilly of Ladbrokes said: “It’s been a bad night for Labour so far, but the good news for Keir Starmer and his fans is the odds suggest he’ll ride the storm and will still be Labour leader for a few years yet.”

She added: “However, for those saying heads will roll after the Hartlepool defeat, it’s looking like a two-horse race between Andy Burnham and Lisa Nandy to revamp the party.”

Instead, it seems the leader is ready to pursue a change of tack by reshuffling the shadow cabinet.

Angela Rayner could spark Labour civil war after Starmer ‘unease’ – ANALYSIS
Alex Beresford speaks out after Keir Starmer blunder on GMB – VIDEO
Hartlepool battering poses serious question – what are Labour for? – COMMENT

Writing in Politico’s daily London Playbook, Emilio Casalicchio revealed a cabinet reshuffle could come “in the coming days”.

The move – which will allegedly see some Corbyn loyalists out of a job – is designed to “streamline” the shadow cabinet and remove posts without Government counterparts.

A new cabinet signals Sir Keir is looking for a new way forward without relinquishing his position.

However, further routing out Corbyn influences may harm his platform and exacerbate the growing divide between Labour’s warring factions.

Some political pundits believe bringing the party more to the centre is a mistake.

But so is allowing it to drift to the left, according to Evening Standard columnist Ayesha Hazarika.

Posting on Twitter, she said each side of the party would claim the “hammering” as ammunition.

She said: “The inevitable tear up within the Labour Party is about to begin.

“And every side is going to take this hammering as confirmation of their own bias.

“The left will say bring back Corbynism. The right will say more Blair. Neither is what’s required or honest. Strap in!”

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