PMQs: PM comments on foreign ‘donation’ to Labour
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The biggest donor of the Opposition is thought to be considering cutting ties within months. Relations between Sir Keir Starmer and the Unite general secretary Sharon Graham have been strained ever since the latter took on the top job.
Ms Graham replaced the notorious union baron Len McCluskey last August.
She made clear at the time that “Westminster politics” would not be a priority.
Since then relations have deteriorated, with Unite accusing Sir Keir of failing to stand up for workers.
Donations have been slashed with £750,000 given to Labour this financial year, down from Unite’s £1.8million donation in 2019-20.
Insiders now tell The Mirror that Unite is considering ending its association with the party completely.
Ms Graham warned that all Unite funding to Labour was “under review” last month.
It came after Sir Keir failed to back a bin workers’ strike in Coventry.
About 75 workers are in the middle of two months of industrial action on pay.
Unite cannot remove all its funding without scrapping its affiliation to Labour.
A Unite spokesman did not deny to The Mirror that there was a prospect of splitting from the party.
They said: “Sharon Graham is completely focused on ensuring that workers and communities do not pay the price for the pandemic.
“The lack of action by Labour to defend working people in the midst of the cost of living crisis has been symbolised by the disgraceful behaviour of the Labour Council in Coventry.
“In Coventry, the leader of the Labour council has engaged in strike breaking and attacked union representatives, all in a bid to suppress the pay of loyal bin drivers who worked through Covid.
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“This disgraceful behaviour has no place in our movement.”
Sir Keir accused Ms Graham of “threatening” the party.
Labour is already thought to be in a funding crisis after a drop in membership numbers, a loss of union backing, and multiple payouts in legal cases.
Last year around 80 staff took voluntary redundancy as the party looked to ease financial pressures.
Losing all funding from Unite would have a devastating impact on the money available for Labour’s election war chest.
A spokeswoman for Sir Keir said: “Keir and the Labour Party have a committed working relationship with Unite.
“We’re absolutely aligned in our determination to call out this Tory cost of living crisis, and to work with all trade unions to end the assault on working people.
“Together we are resolutely focused on delivering the next Labour government.”
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