Angela Rayner: People didn't know what Keir Starmer stood for

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media captionAngela Rayner: I have a 'very frank' relationship with Starmer

People "on the doorstep didn't know what Keir Starmer stood for", Labour's deputy leader has said following poor results in England's local elections.

Angela Rayner, who was locked in a dispute with Sir Keir over her role in the party at the weekend, told the BBC the two had "robust conversations".

However, she also said she believed in him "100% because I wouldn't still be working with him if I didn't."

She said the party now had to "connect with voters we've lost".

Ms Rayner was removed as the party's campaign coordinator on Saturday evening but the following day was given a job shadowing Michael Gove at the Cabinet Office and also became Labour's spokesperson for the future of work.

Ms Rayner did not deny she had been sacked from the position but said they had agreed she should take on a more "front-facing" role.

She said she had "a very frank relationship" with her leader, adding: "I have always been a bit fiery... and Keir's a very measured person so actually we work incredibly well... because we bounce off each other."

Ms Rayner said she would use her new job to "get out there and really sock it to the government" but also to address questions from "the doorstep" about "what does Labour stand for?"

The Ashton-under-Lyne MP was speaking less than a week after Labour suffered defeat to the Conservative in the Hartlepool by-election and lost control of eight councils in England.

However, the party achieved better results in Wales, where it remains the largest party in the Senedd - the Welsh Parliament.

It also won 11 out of 13 mayoral races in England.

However, the results raised concern in the party that it had not done enough to win back its traditional strongholds from the Conservatives.

'Fundamental rethink'

Reflecting on Sir Keir's time as Labour leader, Ms Rayner said it was "right that we came together" during the coronavirus pandemic but that now was the time for "a fundamental rethink" and "real change in our communities".

"The taxpayers of tomorrow will be paying off coronavirus for decades to come - I don't want them in low paid insecure work where they can't bring up their family and own their own home.

"I want to do something that tackles insecure work, tackles low pay, and delivers on high skilled jobs."

She also said she wanted to see green jobs go to areas that "for decades haven't had any industry".

Ms Rayner sought to distance herself from briefings by her supporters in the last few days saying, "I say we pull together, like any family we have our fallouts and we do that in private'.

She warned, "if we fight each other, then people don't think we're on their side and I want people to know that we are on their side - and that's what we are focused on."