Great Britain

Sturgeon for LABOUR? Starmer facing 'poison chalice' so bleak this could be his only move

Keir Starmer meets former Labour voter who doesn’t know him

Biographer Nigel Cawthorne suggested Labour's position is so bad, leaders might be better off inviting Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to take over. Mr Cawthorne, whose book, Keir Starmer - the Reluctant Politician, was published last month by Gibson Square Books, was speaking at a time when the Tories are maintaining a steady lead of between five and seven percent in recent opinion polls.

The ongoing gap reflects the struggles Sir Keir has faced since he was elected in April of last year, when he beat Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy to the top job.

Last month’s Batley and Spen by-election was portrayed by many as a must-win for the party, and while Kim Leadbeater’s victory secured him some breathing space, Mr Cawthorne said he was nevertheless in a far from comfortable position.

With respect to the role of Labour Party leader, which was previously held by Jeremy Corbyn prior to the disastrous 2019 election, Mr Cawthorne told Express.co.uk: “It’s undoubtedly a poison chalice with the factors facing the Labour Party, the continuing allegations of anti-semitism etc.

“And of course their real problem is that the Labour Party has always been really dependent, when it comes to elections, on people's contribution from Scotland which it no longer has.

Sir Keir Starmer Nicola Sturgeon

Sir Keir Starmer has been told Nicola Sturgeon might make a better Labour leader (Image: GETTY)

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson is like the "Teflon Don", said Mr Cawthorne (Image: GETTY)

“Coupled with losing the Red Wall, it’s in pretty bad shape electorally.”

As for Sir Keir himself, Mr Cawthorne said: “He’s in a rather difficult position because although he is perceived as a Blairite, he is actually a man from the hard left, almost a Corbynista.

“So it’s a difficult question in terms of how he united the whole party.”

Referring to Labour’s well-publicised internecine struggles, he added: “The party needs to concentrate on trying to get itself elected, rather than the old sort of left wing factions who would prefer to be right than be in power.

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Sir Keir Starmer Jeremy Corbyn

Sir Keir Starmer with Jeremy Corbyn when the latter was Labour leader (Image: GETTY)

Maybe they should invite Nicola Sturgeon to be leader of the Labour Party

Nigel Cawthorne

“I can't see how they could possibly win without doing something about Scotland.

“They have to get massive support in Scotland.

“Maybe they should invite Nicola Sturgeon to be leader of the Labour Party.

“She is in many ways becoming the leader of the opposition.”

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Kim Leadbeater

Kim Leadbeater narrowly won the Batley and Spen by-election (Image: GETTY)

Sir Keir Starmer Rebecca Long-Bailey Lisa Nandy

Sir Keir Starmer beat Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy last year (Image: GETTY)

Regardless, unless the Scottish question was resolved it would remain a constant problem for Labour, he warned.

He added: “Of course they brought it on themselves because it was Tony Blair that pushed devolution through.”

One solution was to allow a referendum on the question and hope that - just as in 2014 - the answer was no, although Mr Cawthorne acknowledged this would be “a very difficult strategy to pull off”.

In the more immediate term, Mr Cawthorne said it was crucial for Labour to come to terms with the 2016 referendum result.

Sir Keir Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer's evolving position on Brexit (Image: Express)

He said: “They need to say what’s done is done.

“There’s no point being a Remainer now because what are they going to achieve?

“Do they want us to rejoin? I am not even sure the EU would have us back.

“I mean I voted to remain and think it's been a terrible mistake to come out but there's no going back.”

Labour by-election results

Labour's recent by-election results (Image: Express)

There was also the question of how Sir Keir deals with the current occupant of Number 10, Mr Cawthorne pointed out.

He explained: “Boris is kind of like the Teflon Don. Whatever you throw at him, he shrugs off.

“Boris Johnson fancies himself as a sort of cut-price Winston Churchill and the thing for Starmer is” can he be a Clement Attlee?

“He’s obviously a very intelligent man, but people aren’t impressed by men with consciences these days - it's all rather superficial and Boris's is a master on it.”

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