Swansea East MP Carolyn Harris resigned from her post as Starmer's Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) following a report by the Times that she had spread "salacious rumours" about deputy leader Angela Rayner's private life.
“She was briefing salacious rumours about Angela over the weekend and got caught," a senior Labour figure told the newspaper. "She’s a total wrecking ball and has done him a lot of harm in PLP.”
A PPS serves as a party leader's — or minister's — 'eyes and ears' in Parliament, liaising with MPs. But sources told the Times that Harris had become unpopular with some backbenchers in recent months.
But Starmer's Sunday reshuffle — which saw Rayner sacked as party chairwoman with responsibility for campaigning — raised hackles among some, including re-elected Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.
Huffington Post executive political editor Paul Waugh tweeted that Rayner tried to blame the Hartlepool defeat on "anti-immigrant sentiments" among voters at a shadow cabinet meeting on Monday.
— Paul Waugh (@paulwaugh) May 10, 2021
Rayner, who became a grandmother at the age of 37 in 2017, was elected deputy leader in April 2020 alongside Starmer — in the wake of Labour's landslide defeat by Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party in December 2019.
The latest polls painted a grim picture for Labour, with the Tories regaining their previous lead of around ten points — after a brief slump amid sleaze allegations against Johnson — with Starmer's personal approval rating plunging.
— Britain Elects (@BritainElects) May 11, 2021
— Britain Elects (@BritainElects) May 10, 2021
— Stats for Lefties (@LeftieStats) May 11, 2021