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Keir Starmer's aide 'who gossiped about Angela Rayner' quits suddenly as Labour crisis deepens 

One of Keir Starmer’s closest aides quit yesterday amid claims she spread rumours about Angela Rayner’s private life.

Carolyn Harris, who has been Sir Keir’s parliamentary private secretary (PPS) since he became Labour leader last year, resigned abruptly two days after his botched reshuffle.

She suggested her ‘ever-increasing workload’, including her position as deputy leader of Welsh Labour, was to blame. But Labour sources said she had been accused of gossiping about deputy leader Mrs Rayner, who split from her husband Mark last summer.

Although Mrs Harris, 60, has been an effective campaigner on issues including gambling and the cost of funerals since she was elected as MP for Swansea East in 2015, critics say she has alienated some backbenchers in her role as Sir Keir’s PPS.

Carolyn Harris (pictured), who has been Sir Keir’s parliamentary private secretary (PPS) since he became Labour leader last year, resigned abruptly two days after his botched reshuffle

In 2018, Mrs Harris was accused in court of using the term ‘dyke boots’ to describe the footwear of her former constituency office manager Jenny Lee Clarke, who is gay.

Miss Clarke was found not guilty of forging the MP’s signature to give herself a £2,000-a-year pay rise.

Mrs Harris told Cardiff Crown Court: ‘I don’t remember saying that, but if I did it would have been banter... I’m certainly not homophobic.’ She said last night: ‘Stepping back from this role is the right thing at this moment, coming as it does after some trying personal times and an ever-increasing workload.’ 

Mrs Harris did not respond to requests for comment last night. Sir Keir was forced to give Mrs Rayner a new job at the top of the party as his reshuffle descended into farce at the weekend. 

She suggested her ‘ever-increasing workload’, including her position as deputy leader of Welsh Labour, was to blame. But Labour sources said she had been accused of gossiping about deputy leader Angela Rayner (pictured left with Sir Keir), who split from her husband Mark last summer

He removed his deputy from her roles as party chairman and national campaign co-ordinator on Saturday following Labour’s catastrophic local election results.

But following 24 hours of wrangling, she emerged on Sunday with a new broad brief, shadowing Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove and leading the party’s focus on the future of work.

Mrs Rayner, 41, said last night Labour had at times ‘got the tone wrong’ and sounded ‘patronising’ to voters. 

Asked about the reshuffle, she told ITV News: ‘Everyone knows I’m quite a trade union negotiator, and a robust talker, and Keir is very frank with me and I’ve really enjoyed the fact we’ve had that constructive, open relationship. I’m pleased that will continue.’

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