Diane Abbott shares old picture of Keir Starmer on picket line and asks: 'Are you going to sack yourself?'

It comes after Sam Tarry was sacked by the Labour Party from the shadow cabinet after being pictured on the picket lines on Wednesday


Diane Abbott has questioned whether Sir Keir Starmer is going to sack himself after revealing an old picture of the Labour leader on the picket line.

Former shadow transport minister Sam Tarry was seen on Wednesday supporting striking rail workers – in direct contravention of an order from Sir Keir not to do so.

As a result, the Labour Party opted to “remove him from the frontbench”, saying it took seriously “any breach of collective responsibility”.

After the sacking, Ms Abbott took to Twitter to share a picture of Sir Keir on a picket line in 2019.

Keir Starmer on a picket line in 2019
Keir Starmer on a picket line in 2019

Alongside the picture, the Labour MP said: “This was Keir Starmer on a picket line in 2019. Is he going to sack himself?”

Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) general secretary Manuel Cortes, RMT boss Mr Lynch and Unite general secretary Sharon Graham all criticised Sir Keir’s decision.

Mr Tarry is a former official of the TSSA rail union.

Announcing he would be removed from the frontbench, a Labour 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.

Sir Keir Starmer and Diane Abbott
Sir Keir Starmer and Diane Abbott

“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.”

In a statement, Mr Tarry said it had been a “privilege” to serve on Labour’s top team.

“I remain committed to supporting the striking rail workers, and campaigning for a Labour victory at the next general election, which I will fight for relentlessly from the backbenches,” he added.

Rail passengers suffered fresh travel chaos on Wednesday after thousands of workers walked out on strike, crippling services across the country.

A number of backbench Labour MPs also joined picket lines, including Liverpool West Derby MP Ian Byrne, Brent Central MP Dawn Butler, Birmingham Hall Green MP Tahir Ali, Gateshead MP Ian Mearns and South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck