Wes Streeting and Rachel Reeves accused of sizing up leadership bids

Labour heavyweights Wes Streeting and Rachel Reeves are accused of sizing up leadership bids amid claims Keir Starmer will be in ‘dead trouble’ if he is fined over Beergate

  • Rachel Reeves and Wes Streeting were accused of mulling own leadership bids
  • They quietly tapped up donors and drummed up support, party insiders said
  • Likely leadership rival Yvette Cooper has herself declared £57,541 in donations
  • There were also calls by loyalists for Starmer to go ‘full Blair’ and boot out rebels

Labour heavyweights Rachel Reeves and Wes Streeting were last night accused of sizing up leadership bids – amid claims from senior Labour sources that Sir Keir Starmer will be in ‘dead trouble’ if he is fined over Beergate.

The two shadow Cabinet ministers have been quietly tapping up donors and drumming up support for a potential tilt at the top, party insiders said last night.

In the past year alone, Shadow Chancellor Ms Reeves has declared nearly £200,000 in donations on her Register of Interests, while Shadow Health Secretary Mr Streeting has brought in £169,000, analysis by The Mail on Sunday has shown.

Wes Streeting (pictured outside BBC HQ in February)  reportedly harbours leader ambitions

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, who is also expected to throw her hat into the ring, has declared £57,541 in donations over the same period. The claims come amid mounting concern that Sir Keir’s leadership will be doomed if Durham Police fine him over the alleged Beergate flouting of Covid lockdown rules last year.

To make matters worse for Sir Keir, some MPs are privately giving him until September to turn things around after failing to make real progress in the North and Midlands in last week’s local elections.

However, there are also calls from Starmer loyalists that it is time for Sir Keir to go ‘full Blair’ and kick out MPs still loyal to former leader Jeremy Corbyn and his hard-Left agenda.

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves has raised nearly £200,000 in donations over the past year

One senior party figure even raised hopes that David Miliband would now return to frontline UK politics to bolster Sir Keir’s Blairite drive for power.

The beleaguered Labour leader has defiantly insisted that no rules were broken at the now notorious event last year inside the office of City of Durham MP Mary Foy at the Durham Miners’ Hall. But privately, even some senior Labour colleagues are worried by claims of hypocrisy against Sir Keir, given how he had repeatedly demanded Boris Johnson’s head over Covid party breaches at No 10.

One former shadow Cabinet member said: ‘The boys in blue in Durham may well catch him and he’s going to be in dead trouble if he’s fined.

‘Keir has made this a defining Keir test – whether or not Rishi Sunak and Boris told the truth. He didn’t need to make the point week after week after week. Our leadership has spent too much time on it.’

Starmer loyalists have urged the Labour leader to go ‘full Blair’ and boot out leader rivals

Another Labour MP said: ‘By the autumn, a decision will have to be made. Someone new will need 15 to 18 months to bed in. We haven’t cut through as much as we need to do. We’re probably two years away from a General Election and there’s a massive amount of work to be done.’

And yesterday Diane Abbott said Sir Keir should ‘consider his position’ if he is fined for breaking lockdown rules. She told LBC: ‘I think this is a lot of hype built up by the Tory press. But if he were to get a fixed penalty notice, he would have to consider his position.

‘I’m a loyal supporter of Keir Starmer, I’m just making the common sense point that if he gets a fixed penalty notice he should consider his position.’

Party insiders said that potential successors to Sir Keir – including Ms Reeves, Mr Streeting and Ms Cooper – are now drawing up plans for a future leadership contest. ‘They’re all raising funds, talking to people,’ one Labour insider said.

He added: ‘The Mandelson, Streeting and Blair types were making noises during the local election campaign that they weren’t completely happy with him [Sir Keir]. But it will be for them to make the first move.’

Sources close to all three Labour frontbenchers last night dismissed the suggestion of leadership manoeuvres, stressing they were loyal to Sir Keir.

One said Mr Streeting’s donations were mostly funding his Shadow Health brief and a personal adviser for his office – not a leadership bid. However, one Labour insider said privately that given Sir Keir’s position, would-be replacements were right to lay the groundwork. Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham – the so-called ‘King of the North’ – and London Mayor Sadiq Khan are also considered future Labour leaders. The two ex-MPs would first need to get back into the Commons. But there are rumours of long-serving MPs being prepared to stand down to make way for Mr Burnham or Mr Khan.

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