Rising Labor star Wes Streeting has denied preparing a leadership attempt to replace Keir Starmer after it emerged wealthy party donor Waheed Alli recently organized a fund-raising event for him and another MP at his central London home.
The Observer Actors Ian McKellen and Michael Cashman, as well as businesswoman and LGBTQ+ activist Linda Riley, have been told between 20 and 30 in attendance at the March event, where Lord Alli picked up the £4,600 bill for a buffet and drinks.
The event raised around £20,000 from those in attendance, which was split between Streeting and his fellow Labor MP Kim Leadbeater.
A senior frontbench source said on Saturday that Leadbeater, the Batley and Spen member and sister of the late Jo Cox MP, could be drafted as a potential running mate with Streeting, for the position of deputy leader, in a contest to take the seat. .
Some senior figures in the party, who do not see Streeting as a future leader, say the shadow health minister has been “maneuvering” for months, preparing in case Starmer leaves his post before or after the next election.
Rumors of the activities of possible Starmer replacements started circulating in Westminster last week after the Labor leader announced he would resign if he was fined by Durham police for drinking a beer and eating. of curry in an MP’s office after a day of campaigning for the local elections in April 2021.
While Starmer is confident he will be acquitted after receiving four different legal opinions on the case, his promise to stop if he is fined has inevitably led to several hares running over a possible succession battle.
Others likely to flee if Starmer has to stop include the Shadow Upgrade Secretary, Lisa Nandy, and the Shadow House Secretary, Yvette Cooper.
Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, said last week he hadn’t given up hope of leading the party, although he wouldn’t be in the foreseeable future; first he would have to be selected and then elected to a Labor seat in the House of Commons.
Burnham made it clear in an interview with LBC last week that an opportunity would arise in the future, and the party wanted him to enjoy tackling the leveling agenda and reforming the way the country is governed.
Streeting’s office vehemently denied that the event at Alli’s home had anything to do with leadership ambitions, saying it was just to raise money for constituency campaigns.
A Streeting spokesperson accused people in the party of causing mischief, saying: “This was a joint fundraising campaign with Kim Leadbeater to support her campaign in Batley & Spen and to support Wes’ campaign in Ilford North and as shadow secretary of health. support. Keir’s office was fully aware of the event, which took place months ago. Whoever has told this nonsense should put away his wooden spoon.”
Streeting, who grew up in a council flat in Stepney, east London, and funded his way through Cambridge University by turning to Comet customer service during his holidays, has been the Member of Parliament for Ilford North since 2015.
He is now widely regarded as one of Labour’s most effective communicators.
His allies point out that he has been one of the Labor leader’s most consistent advocates and defenders. He is only 39, is on the right side of the party and has been highly critical of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
Peter Kyle, Northern Ireland’s shadow secretary and an ally of Streeting, said such events were normal and were intended to allow MPs to pay additional staff whose salaries could not be paid from party funds. “I can put my hand on my heart and say this has nothing to do with any leadership tricks,” Kyle said.
Alli has been a long-standing donor since first being inducted into New Labor’s inner circle under Tony Blair, and has funded the campaigns of successive leadership candidates, including David Miliband and Starmer himself. He gave £100,000 to Starmer’s campaign leading to his election in April 2020.
The latest poll for the Observer Turns out the so-called Beergate affair has led to a 10% drop in Starmer’s personal ratings in recent weeks. Despite this, Starmer is still rated more favorably than Boris Johnson on issues related to Partygate and Beergate.
Nine in ten (89%) think Johnson broke the rules during the pandemic, while 63% think he did so on purpose.
For Starmer, 58% think he broke the rules, while 30% think he did so intentionally. Two-thirds of respondents (65%) think they are right when they say they would resign if they were given a fixed fine.
Adam Drummond, Opinium’s head of political and social research, said: “A media coverage of Beergate would never be the top talking point for the Labor leader after the local election, and this is reflected in the hit on his net approval ratings. which are now at -10.
“Nevertheless, voters are much more likely to give Keir Starmer the benefit of the doubt that he acted appropriately than the Prime Minister, while nearly a quarter have actually received a more favorable opinion of him for the way he has responded to the allegations, by promising to resign if he is fined by the police.”