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11th Nov 2021

Leaked texts suggest Jeremy Corbyn blocked Keir Starmer from taking lucrative second job

Ava Evans

In a politically monumental moment for Labour, where is Leader Keir Starmer?

Sir Keir Starmer appears to be in hiding after a former Corbyn staffer confirmed reports the Labour leader attempted to take a paid consultancy gig while in the Shadow Cabinet.

Jeremy Corbyn’s biographer and former speechwriter, Alex Nunns, has claimed Corbyn stopped Starmer from taking a second job doing “high-paid consultancy work” for law firm Mishcon de Reya in 2017.

Leaked texts tweeted by Nunns appear to show a conversation between Corbyn’s office and Starmer’s staffers from the 24th July 2017.

In the texts, Starmer’s office seem to confirm the Labour leader was considering a post with the law firm clarifying it “it’s a limited role of a few hours a month”.

A spokesperson for Sir Keir Starmer had told PoliticsJOE on Thursday the story was “entirely untrue”.

On Thursday, Nunns cited a senior member of Corbyn’s shadow ministerial team, who alleged the matter was raised at a meeting of the shadow cabinet, where “Jeremy very politely reminded Keir what Labour Party policy was”.

He said Starmer’s office had argued there was “nothing to worry about in him taking the job”, but claimed panic later settled in after the Tories’ discovered Labour’s then Brexit secretary would be working for a law firm representing anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller.

The position was vetoed, but Starmer later claimed it had been his decision all along.

The claim has been confirmed to PoliticsJOE by several key figures from the Corbyn leadership involved in the discussions.

Discussions were also confirmed at the time in 2017 by Mischon de Reya, who in a statement said: “We are in discussions with Keir Starmer about reappointing him as an adviser to the Mishcon Academy.

“His wide experience and previous association with the firm would enable him to play a key and unique role in shaping the work of the academy, which leads new thinking and develops the potential of everyone in the firm.”

Speaking during an anti-sleaze debate in the Commons on Monday, Starmer said: “Labour has long called for the MPs Code of Conduct to ban paid directorships and consultancy roles.”

In addition to the law firm claim, Starmer has been forced to confront awkward questions surrounding his own second income, after it was revealed he has earned £25,000 for legal work in the past two years.

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According to Starmer’s Register of Members’ Interests, he received £17,598.60 in August 2021 for 70 hours of legal advice.

In December 2020, he registered a further £8k for similar work.

It’s perhaps why Starmer dropped plans on Saturday night to announce a Labour policy banning second jobs on Andrew Marr.

Aside from a statement marking Remembrance Day, Starmer has been uncharacteristically quiet.

He has been absent from the public conversation on Tory sleaze since a rather awkward interview with Sky News’ Sam Coates on Monday where he failed to deny he had been in talks with Mishcon de Reya in 2017.

Asked if he was in talks to take a second job, Starmer said he wasn’t in “talks”, he was in a “discussion”.

Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, has since taken the lead on the party’s anti-sleaze campaign and party insiders have expressed frustrations they are being forced to cover for Starmer

On Tuesday, Rayner wrote to the Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone requesting that she investigate allegations that Sir Geoffrey Cox MP had breached parliamentary guidelines. Cox, it was revealed Thursday, has lined his pockets with nearly £6m from his second job.

On Wednesday, Rayner gave broadcast interviews in which she said the situation “stinks of sleaze and corruption”.

According to a second poll this week, this time from Redfield and Wilson Strategies, Labour are polling ahead of the Tories.

This is the first time since Boris Johnson took office.

PoliticsJOE have contacted Starmer’s spokesperson for comment.