Angela Rayner has been sacked by Keir Starmer as the Labour Party’s chair and campaigns co-ordinator, Labour sources have confirmed.
Starmer’s shock decision to strip his deputy leader of both strategic roles came after Labour lost a slew of council seats and the key ‘red wall’ seat of Hartlepool.
It is understood Rayner will be offered a different job. The demotion does not affect Rayner’s role as deputy leader, which is elected.
A Labour source said: “Keir said he was taking full responsibility for the result of the elections - and he said we need to change.
“That means change how we run our campaigns in the future. Angela will continue to play a senior role in Keir’s team.”
Reports suggest shadow communities secretary Steve Reed could be in line to replace Rayner.
Ian Murray, the shadow secretary for Scotland, and MP Chris Bryant have also been tipped for promotion.
It came as Starmer was expected to embark on a reshuffle of his cabinet, with his shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds among those reported to be in line for a demotion.
Removing Rayner from her campaign roles has divided opinion among activists and MPs.
One former Labour staffer: “This Angela decision is probably one of the stupidest political decisions a leaders office has made in a very long time.”
Others said Starmer was avoiding blame for defeat, with former shadow chancellor John McDonnell calling the move “a cowardly avoidance of responsibility”.
Another Labour source took aim at Jenny Chapman, Starmer’s political director.
“It’s absolutely crazy,” they said. “This sacking isn’t about Angela. It’s all about Jenny.”
But one Labour MP told HuffPost UK they backed the decision
They said: “I’m delighted Keir’s done this. She needs to take her share of the blame for the campaign she was in charge of. What was the slogan of our campaign? There wasn’t one.
“Her presentations to the Parliamentary Labour Party on the campaign updates were streams of consciousness. She’s also been making life difficult for David Evans [party general secretary]. It had to stop.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.