Keir Starmer prepares successor for leadership competition

Union leader Keir Stamer speaks into a microphone

Sir Keir Starmer is said to have advised candidates to put together a campaign team (Image: Getty)

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer has instructed his potential successors to prepare for a leadership contest should he resign over Covid violations, it has been reported.

He has vowed to step down from his position as opposition leader if he is found to have broken lockdown rules by having a takeaway meal with staff at the end of a working day in April 2021, which police are investigating.

According to the Sunday Times, Sir Keir is said to want plans for a successor to ensure his efforts as Labor leader over the past two years are not lost.

“I won’t let our hard-won winnings go to waste, so we need to be prepared in the unlikely event that the worst comes to the worst,” he is said to have told friends.

He is understood to have met with a number of shadow cabinet members vying for his seat and instructed them to put together a campaign team.

Among them are Shadow Leveling Up Secretary Lisa Nandy and Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting – both of whom are said to have received Sir Keir’s endorsement – as well as Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper.

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“Keir has engaged in some sensible succession planning, but there’s also suspicion in the shadow cabinet that some people are hoping he’ll be fined so they can take over,” a source told the newspaper.

Both Sir Keir and Labor Deputy Leader Angela Rayner are under investigation by Durham Police over the takeaway dinner.

They are said to have given police back a “very detailed and very comprehensive” response to the questionnaires during the evening, including exact times.

The Labor leader has repeatedly denied breaking lockdown rules.

But if he were fined by the police it would put him in a difficult position as he said Boris Johnson should quit if he is found to have broken any rules.

Last month he vowed to resign if found to have broken lockdown rules.

In a brief speech, he repeatedly said that “no rules were broken” but confirmed that if he were fined he would “do the right thing and resign”.

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He described it as “a matter of principle and honor for me, it’s about who I am,” and accused opponents of “fomenting cynicism” even though they themselves “don’t believe” the allegations.

Referring to the alleged rule-breaking, he said “people have a right to expect politicians to follow the same rules as everyone else”.

In January he said the Prime Minister “must do the decent thing and resign” after being embroiled in allegations of lockdown breaches.

Durham Police are unlikely to complete their inquiry into Sir Keir before the end of the month and would like to avoid announcing the conclusion ahead of the results of Thursday’s by-elections in Wakefield and Honiton and Tiverton.

Sir Keir’s resignation would spark a leadership contest and would require candidates to have the support of 20 per cent of the party’s MPs – in this case 39 – to proceed.

They must also receive nominations from at least five percent of the Constituency Labor Parties (CLPs) or at least three affiliates, two of which are mostly unions.

The voting then takes place among the party members.

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Justin Scacco

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