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UK Labour Party’s Starmer faces leadership test as MP defies him on strikes

Published: Updated:

Keir Starmer faced a test of his authority after a member of his team joined a picket line in support of striking rail workers just a day after the Labour Party leader suggested senior party members shouldn’t do so.

Labour MP Sam Tarry, who speaks on transport for the party, on Wednesday joined a picket line at Euston station in north London as 40,000 members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport workers staged a stoppage. It marks the fourth day of action by the union this summer and comes ahead of further UK-wide industrial action by the RMT and two other unions in the coming weeks.

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“The Labour Party in opposition needs to be the Labour Party in power,” Starmer said on Tuesday. “And a government doesn’t go on picket lines, a government tries to resolve disputes.”

By contrast Tarry told Good Morning Britain on Wednesday: “I have 100 percent confidence that any Labour MP will be in support of striking railway workers.” Asked how he thought Starmer would react to his presence on the picket line, he said he had “no idea,” but added that if Labour were in power “this dispute wouldn’t be happening.”

The Conservative Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News on Wednesday that there was “no doubt” Starmer “will want to sack Tarry.”

Read more: Next UK PM facing winter of discontent amid strike threats

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