Senior Labour figures defy Starmer over order not to join rail pickets

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar met with workers in Edinburgh.

Senior Labour figures defy Starmer over order not to join rail pickets Twitter
Pickets are taking place outside stations across the UK on the first of three days of strike action.

Senior figures from the Labour Party have broken ranks with leader Keir Starmer over RMT picket lines amid industrial action on UK rail.

Starmer is said to have ordered his Westminster frontbenchers not to join picket lines outside stations.

A leaked memo revealed that they were told to “show leadership” by the Labour leader’s office.

And it stated that frontbenchers should “not be on the picket lines”, whilst urging them to remind their teams of this instruction.

However, the order was defied by a number of his MPs, including shadow minister Alex Sobel who joined workers at Tottenham Court Road in London.

Frontbenchers Kate Osborne, Paul Barker and Navendu Mishra also tweeted photographs of themselves at picket lines.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar also expressed his solidarity with those taking action.

He visited RMT members at Edinburgh Waverley alongside his transport spokesman Neil Bibby.

And he criticised the UK Government over the dispute as he said that workers, unions and the public demand better.

“Solidarity with those on the picket lines,” the Scottish Labour leader wrote.

This is a crisis entirely of the Government’s making.

“The workers don’t want strikes. The unions don’t want strikes. The public don’t want strikes.

“They demand better.”

Scottish Labour’s former leader Richard Leonard was also among those to have joined with striking workers.

In a video taken outside Glasgow Central Station, Leonard insisted that there is no debate to be had on whether to back workers or not.

He said: “To me, it’s a basic principle – if working people vote to take industrial action, you don’t debate whether you support them or not.

“You get right in behind them and right in behind their union.

“That’s why today I’m standing with these RMT members on their first day of industrial action.”

Leonard added: “Their demands are modest. They simply want a no compulsory redundancy agreement.

“They want an inflation based pay rise and they want to stop any imposition of changes to their terms and conditions.

“I’m proud to stand here with them. Victory to the RMT.”

The Scottish Conservatives hit out at Sarwar and the RMT, as they branded the strikes as “excessive and irresponsible”.

Graham Simpson, the party’s transport spokesman, said the Scottish Labour leader’s support is proof that he is “on the side of this militant union”.

“Passengers across the country will have been outraged to see Anas Sarwar on the picket lines, supporting these selfish strikes,” said Simpson.

“The whole country is being held to ransom by a union that would rather cause disruption than get round the negotiating table and be part of the solution.

“Yet instead of sticking up for ordinary travellers, Anas Sarwar has proved he’s firmly on the side of this militant union.

“Even Keir Starmer knows that these strikes are excessive and irresponsible. The Scottish Labour leader is utterly out of touch if he thinks he’ll win support with this blatant stunt.”