Angela Rayner has been sacked as chair of the Labour Party, as Sir Keir Starmer began a major reshuffle of his top team.
Anneliese Dodds, the shadow chancellor, and Jon Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, were also said to be facing the sack.
A reshuffle had been planned for next month, but sources suggested it had been brought forward following the party’s poor performance at the local elections.
Ms Rayner has been blamed by party insiders for the selection of Dr Paul Williams, the losing candidate in the Hartlepool by-election.
Ms Rayner remains deputy leader of the party but has left her role as party chair. Relations between Sir Keir and Ms Rayner are said to have soured in recent days, following the party’s loss in Hartlepool and in key council seats across the north.
Tory sources poured scorn on the Labour campaign, telling The Telegraph: “If Angela Rayner had spent more time on the campaign trail and less time writing letters and playing politics maybe she’d still be in post.”
Ms Rayner is expected to be offered another role. A Labour source said: “Keir said he was taking full responsibility for the result of the elections - and he said we need to change.
“That means changing how we run our campaigns in the future. Angela will continue to play a senior role in Keir’s team.”
Meanwhile, Sir Keir has launched a search for a Labour grandee to devise a new policy platform, win back northern voters and save his premiership after the drubbing he received at this week’s elections.
Sources said the chair of a new policy review, which could launch as early as this week, would likely be a member of the party’s old guard and could be an MP, peer, think tank official or former Labour politician.
Sir Keir has said he will “take responsibility” for the party’s Super Thursday losses, including the Hartlepool by-election, the Tees Valley mayoral race and a swathe of northern councils that fell to the Conservative Party.
The Labour leader has already lost one of his ministerial team, Khalid Mahmood, who called on him to stop focussing on identity politics and be “proud” of the Union Flag.
Party insiders admit it needs to go “further and faster” in changing its values and policies from the Corbyn era.
Officials are looking to dispense with the “patronising” idea that “communities need Labour” and focus on an economic offering to northern votes in the Red Wall, who rejected the party at the 2019 general election and appear not to have returned.
The review will be designed to produce policy for the next Labour manifesto, and could run for months.
“It won’t be a three week job and then report,” a source said. “It will be a long-running thing.”
Labour insiders refused to say on Saturday whether the review would take place within the framework of Sir Keir’s leadership manifesto, which committed him to the nationalisation of rail, mail, energy and water.
The news that it will likely be chaired by a grandee who is not on the party’s current front bench will prompt speculation about the return of New Labour figures who could revitalise the party’s fortunes.
Lord Adonis (below), a former transport minister under Tony Blair, told The Telegraph he would be “delighted” to take on the job.
“I suspect I'm far too radical for Keir because I believe in real, substantial change, and so far, changes have been cosmetic in the Labour Party under his leadership,” he said.
Mr Blair’s office said he was not aware of any review and had not been approached.
Lord Mandelson, a former Labour minister who is advising Sir Keir’s office, is understood not to be interested in the role.
It is understood the policy review will take place alongside a wider reform of Labour’s organisational structure.
A source said the current arrangement in Labour headquarters was “dysfunctional” as a result of “power grabs” under previous administrations, and hinted that senior staff could be sacked if they oppose the reforms.
“If people are resistant to change, they should be considering why they're there anyway,” the source said.
The party has been criticised in recent days by Khalid Mahmood, the former shadow defence minister who resigned last month and accused the leadership of being a “London-based bourgeoisie”.
He told The Telegraph the party should focus more on economic restructuring, and be “proud” of the Union Flag.
“Every house in America has a flag, the French are proud of their flag, the Pakistanis and the Indians and the Bengalis are hugely proud of [flying] their national flags,” he said. “So why can’t we?”
Mr Mahmood, England’s first Muslim MP, said Sir Keir should promote MPs who are “embedded in their local communities”, rather than “people who are there because of the degree they have taken or the university they went to”.