Swansea East MP Carolyn Harris resigned from her post as Starmer’s Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) following a report by the Times that she had spread “salacious rumours” about deputy leader Angela Rayner’s private life.

“She was briefing salacious rumours about Angela over the weekend and got caught,” a senior Labour figure told the newspaper. “She’s a total wrecking ball and has done him a lot of harm in PLP.”

A PPS serves as a party leader’s — or minister’s — ‘eyes and ears’ in Parliament, liaising with MPs. But sources told the Times that Harris had become unpopular with some backbenchers in recent months. 

Official portrait of Swansea East Labour MP Carolyn Harris, former PPS to Sir Keir Starmer

Labour has tried to present a united front following disastrous results in the May 6 ‘Super Thursday’ elections, when Labour lost a string of councils and the Hartlepool parliamentary seat it had held for 57 years.

But Starmer’s Sunday reshuffle — which saw Rayner sacked as party chairwoman with responsibility for campaigning — raised hackles among some, including re-elected Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.

Huffington Post executive political editor Paul Waugh tweeted that Rayner tried to blame the Hartlepool defeat on “anti-immigrant sentiments” among voters at a shadow cabinet meeting on Monday.

Rayner, who became a grandmother at the age of 37 in 2017, was elected deputy leader in April 2020 alongside Starmer — in the wake of Labour’s landslide defeat by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party in December 2019.

The latest polls painted a grim picture for Labour, with the Tories regaining their previous lead of around ten points — after a brief slump amid sleaze allegations against Johnson — with Starmer’s personal approval rating plunging.