Labor rising star Wes Streeting has denied preparing a leadership bid to replace Keir Starmer after it emerged wealthy party donor Waheed Alli had recently held a fundraiser for him and another MP at his house from central London.
the Observer was told actors Ian McKellen and Michael Cashman, along with businesswoman and LGBTQ+ activist Linda Riley, were among 20-30 people at the event in March, where Lord Alli picked up the $4 bill £600 for a buffet and drinks.
The event raised around £20,000 from attendees, split between Streeting and fellow Labor MP Kim Leadbeater.
A senior source said on Saturday that Leadbeater, the MP for Batley and Spen and sister of the late Jo Cox MP, could be lined up as a potential running mate with Streeting, for the post of deputy leader, was a competition to take place.
Some party figures, who are not in favor of Streeting as a future leader, say the shadow health secretary has been “in the works” for months, preparing in case Starmer leaves his post before or after the next election. .
Rumors about the activities of potential Starmer replacements began swirling around Westminster last week after the Labor leader announced he would quit if fined by Durham police for drinking a beer and ate curry in an MP’s office after a day of campaigning for local elections in April. 2021.
While Starmer is confident he will be cleared, after receiving four different legal opinions on the case, his promise to step down if fined has inevitably sparked several hares over a potential succession battle.
Others thought he was likely to run if Starmer were to step down, including Shadow Upgrade Secretary Lisa Nandy and Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper.
Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, said last week that he had not given up hope of leading the party, although not in the near future; he would first have to be selected and then elected to a Labor seat in the House of Commons.
Burnham made it clear last week in an interview with LBC that this was a future opportunity to run, and the party wanted him, he would like to tackle the leveling agenda and reform the way the country is governed.
Streeting’s office vehemently denied the event at Alli had anything to do with leadership ambitions and said it was simply to raise money for the election campaign.
A spokesperson for Streeting accused party members of stoking mischief, saying: ‘This was a joint fundraiser with Kim Leadbeater to support her campaign at Batley & Spen and to support Wes’s campaign. in Ilford North and as Shadow Health Secretary. Keir’s office was fully aware of the event, which took place months ago. Whoever informed this nonsense should put away their wooden spoon.
Streeting, who grew up in a council flat in Stepney, east London, and funded his Cambridge University journey by working shifts while on holiday at Comet customer service, is MP 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. Aged just 39, he is on the right of the party and has strongly criticized the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.
Peter Kyle, the shadow secretary for Northern Ireland and a Streeting ally, said such events were normal and set up as a way of allowing MPs to pay extra staff whose salaries could not be funded from party funds. “I can put my hand on my heart and say this has nothing to do with leadership shenanigans,” Kyle said.
Alli has been a longtime donor since he was first introduced to 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, which led to his election in April 2020.
The latest Opinium poll for the Observer shows that the so-called Beergate affair had led to a 10% drop in Starmer’s personal ratings in recent weeks. Despite this, Starmer is still viewed more favorably than Boris Johnson on Partygate and Beergate issues.
Nine in ten (89%) believe Johnson broke the rules during the pandemic, with 63% believing he did so intentionally.
For Starmer, 58% believe he broke the rules, with 30% believing he did so intentionally. Two-thirds of those questioned (65%) think he was right to say he would resign if he received a penalty notice.
Adam Drummond, head of political and social research at Opinium, said: “The media focus on Beergate was never going to be the Labor leader’s best talking point after the local elections, and that is reflected in the blow to his net approval ratings, which now sit 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, when almost a quarter actually took a more favorable view of him for the how he responded to the charges, promising to resign if fined by the police.