‘Absolute nonsense’ Keir Starmer is succession planning if forced to quit, says Lisa Nandy

Labour frontbencher Lisa Nandy has dismissed claims that Sir Keir Starmer is succession planning in the event he is forced to quit as “absolute nonsense”.

The shadow levelling up secretary, who ran for the leadership in 2020, said she had “no conversations about succession” with the Labour leader amid reports he had met with members of the shadow cabinet to discuss plans.

Sir Keir has repeatedly insisted no Covid rules were broken when he had a beer and curry with staff after a day of campaigning in the 2021 local elections, and is currently awaiting the outcome of a Durham Police probe.

But the Labour leader and his deputy, Angela Rayner, who have called on Boris Johnson to step down from No 10 over lockdown-busting parties, have both made clear that they will resign if issued with a fixed penalty notice.

On Friday, a Labour spokesperson confirmed that Sir Keir and Ms Rayner returned questionnaires to Durham Constabulary.

According to The Sunday Times, Sir Keir, however, has begun making plans in the event he issued with a fine, and has reportedly met with ambitious members of the shadow cabinet to urge them to put campaign teams in place.

The newspaper said he told friends: “I will not let this party become a basket case again. I will not let our hard-won gains be squandered so we will need to be ready in the unlikely event the worst comes to the worst”.

A Labour leadership source disputed the claims, telling The Independent: “We’re confident Keir and Angela broke no rules, and that it will be proven.

“The only planning we’re doing is for Keir and Angela to lead the party into government at the next general election”.

And asked about the reports and whether Sir Keir had any conversations with her, Ms Nandy told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge programme: “It’s absolute nonsense.

“No, he hasn’t and I’ve spoken to him twice in the last couple of days about how we persuade this government to lift a finger to avert a crisis on the railways and about how we can (reverse) the huge cuts to local government funding.”

She added: “No, I’m not worried he’s been talking to anybody about succession planning because I know he’s been talking to all of us about how we rid this country of a government has held us back over the last 12 years”.

Pressed again on BBC’s Sunday Politics whether she had been involved with any succession planning with the Labour leader, Ms Nandy repeated it was “absolute nonsense” and said she has had “no conversation with Keir Starmer about succession”.

The remarks came as the former prime Labour prime minister Gordon Brown suggested Sir Keir should “ignore” anonymous briefings in the media this week from shadow cabinet minister’s that he is “boring voters to death”.

Mr Brown said the Labour leader will make a “great prime minister”, adding: “What’s exciting about the possibility of Keir Starmer’s leadership is, he will have a plan for Britain.

“He will show how we can get back growth. He will show how we can get living standards rising again and he will show how we can have a fairer society that deals with problems like climate change.”

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