Kay Burley grills Wes Streeting on Starmer and Rayner
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The Ashton-under-Lyne MP said she wants to see the party’s leader be more “spicy” in his approach to politics. But amid constant talk of a rift opening up between the two key players at the heart of Labour, Ms Rayner stands by Sir Keir as “genuine, decent guy”.
For months Sir Keir has faced accusations from the Left of his own party for being too dull and not offering a radical message to voters.
With the pandemic blamed by some for distorting opinion polls, the Opposition also struggled to keep up with the Government in surveys of public opinion, trailing by five or six points each time.
Weeks of bad headlines for the Conservatives have seen that gap close, with Labour even taking the lead in some polls.
But repeatedly, Sir Keir has lagged behind Boris Johnson in surveys on who would make the best Prime Minister.
Speaking to Grazia, Ms Rayner hinted she was trying to instil some of her style on her boss.
She said: “I’m always trying to bring him out of his shell a bit more because, as you’ve probably guessed, I’m a bit more… spicy.”
Ms Rayner has become known for her abrasive approach when attacking the Conservatives, and was criticised after referring to “Tory scum” in a late-night rallying speech to members at the Labour Party conference in September.
Sir Kier was quick to distance himself from his deputy after the remarks, saying he would “not have used” her words and that “we have different styles”.
The deputy later apologised for her comments.
The two have been accused of being at loggerheads for months, clashing over how to make the Labour Party electable.
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On Monday the divisions appeared to become all the more obvious to the public when Sir Keir started a reshuffle of his shadow cabinet without consulting Ms Rayner.
The deputy leader was giving a press conference on standards in public life when the news first broke.
Apparently blindsided, she admitted to journalists: “I don’t know the details of any reshuffle.”
Her allies were furious at what they saw as a deliberate attempt by Sir Keir to sideline his deputy.
Eyebrows were raised again on the Tuesday when Sir Keir’s office sent round a “save the date” to Westminster journalists for Christmas drinks with him and Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor.
Ms Rayner’s name did not appear on the invite.
But shrugging off claims of an iron wall between their offices, Ms Rayner told Grazia Sir Keir was the best person to lead the country.
She said: “Keir is just such a genuine, decent guy.
“He’s the person that you definitely want in control of your schools, your hospitals and your economy because he wouldn’t wing it.
“Boris Johnson wings it. Keir Starmer would never wing it.”
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