The Ilford South MP showed his support for the RMT union’s walkout over pay and redundancies by joining strikers at London’s Euston station just a day after the Labour leader warned his frontbench not to do so.
On Wednesday, Sir Keir told his senior MPs: “The Labour party in opposition needs to be the Labour party in power. And a government doesn’t go on picket lines, a government tries to resolve disputes.”
But Mr Tarry, a former officer of the TSSA transport trade union who helped run Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign, flouted his leader’s orders by conducting a TV interview from a picket line as strikes got under way this morning.
“I’m here supporting these striking workers because it’s important we get a pay deal and get to resolve as soon as possible so the travelling public can get back to work,” Mr Tarry said.
“The reality is this is about a failing government, this is about dispute happening all across the country. We’ve got potentially doctors, nurses and communication workers.”
Asked if he feared the sack, the shadow minister replied: “I’ve no idea what Keir will decide to do but I know this – if Keir was in government right now, this dispute wouldn’t be happening.”
His decision put Starmer under significant pressure, after the Labour leader failed to discipline frontbenchers who joined pickets on a previous dispute. Transport secretary Grant Shapps described his action as “direct defiance”of the Labour leadership, adding: “If Labour frontbenchers are going to join them on the picket line, people will come to their own conclusions.”
Announcing his dismissal several hours later, a Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party will always stand up for working people fighting for better pay, terms and conditions at work.
“This isn’t about appearing on a picket line. Members of the frontbench sign up to collective responsibility. That includes media appearances being approved and speaking to agreed frontbench positions.
“As a government-in-waiting, any breach of collective responsibility is taken extremely seriously and for these reasons Sam Tarry has been removed from the frontbench.”