Keir Starmer kicks off Labour reshuffle - blindsiding his deputy Angela Rayner

Keir Starmer today kicked off a reshuffle of his shadow cabinet – blindsiding his own deputy leader.

Cat Smith was the first casualty of the shake-up, resigning as Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and marking the exit of one of Jeremy Corbyn’s last loyal shadow cabinet members.

She quit despite being offered to stay, launching a broadside into Keir Starmer over the restore the Labour whip to ex-leader Mr Corbyn.

She wrote: “You will be aware that we had a meeting scheduled for later this week, during which I wanted to raise the issue of, and my concerns about, Jeremy [Corbyn] not being readmitted to the Parliamentary Labour Party after he was readmitted into our party membership following due process.

“This position is utterly unsustainable and it is important that you truly understand how much damage this is causing in Constituency Labour Parties and amongst ordinary members, a number of whom are no longer campaigning.”

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner was blindsided by the reshuffle, with shadow ministers getting phone calls while she was giving a major speech on kicking sleaze out of politics.

The last time there was a reshuffle, Sir Keir attempted to move her, only for her to win a job title more than 20 words long when she fought back.

Questioned at the event, she told journalists: “I don’t know the details of any reshuffle, I’ve been concentrating on the job I have been doing.”

She added Labour had to “show that we are a government in waiting”.

Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Ms Smith was one of the longest-serving members of the Shadow Cabinet, keeping her job since 2016.

Keir Starmer kicks off Labour reshuffle - blindsiding his deputy Angela Rayner
© Daily Mirror It’s understood Cat Smith had planned to resign later this week

In her letter, Ms Smith – who it’s understood had planned to resign later this week – said she also wanted to quit because of Labour’s failure to back proportional representation for the voting system.

She wrote: “You will also be aware that I am a longstanding advocate of proportional representation.

“I am disappointed that we, as a party, have not adopted a position which I believe to be fundamentally fairer and very much in keeping with the views of many of my constituents.”

A motion on backing PR was put to Labour’s conference but failed due to the opposition of unions.

It is understood Ms Rayner knew a reshuffle was imminent – but not exactly when it would take place.

Her spokesman said: “Keir and Angela had a short conversation in between her media round and her speech.

“I’m not aware of the contents of that conversation but she wasn’t aware of the detail of the reshuffle and she wasn’t consulted on the reshuffle.”

Asked about the timing of the reshuffle, Ms Rayner’ spokesman said: “Angela thinks it’s important that the public hears what we said about the government being corrupt.”

This breaking news story is being updated.

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