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Angela Rayner backs rail strike, saying ‘Workers have been left with no choice’

Angela Rayner has defied Keir Starmer by backing the rail workers’ decision to strike, saying they “have been left with no choice”.

Labour’s deputy leader gave the party’s strongest support yet for the biggest industrial action on the railways for 30 years – after its leader was accused of “hiding” from the dispute.

“Workers have been left with no choice,” Ms Rayner tweeted, adding: “No one takes strike action lightly.

“I will always defend their absolute right to do so for fairness at work. The PM needs to do his own job. His Government caused this. Now they must solve it.”

The comments come after Sir Keir was hit by a revolt over his instruction to frontbenchers not to join any picket lines mounted by striking workers.

At least two Labour MPs have defied the order, intended to “show leadership” by stepping back from displaying support for the action by the RMT union, a leaked memo said.

The head of the Unite union, Sharon Graham, lashed out at Sir Keir, saying: “The Labour Party was founded by the trade unions and we expect Labour MPs to defend workers, by words and by actions.

“To instruct Labour MPs not to be on picket lines with workers speaks volumes. You don’t lead by hiding. No-one respects that. It’s time to decide whose side you are on. Workers or bad bosses?”

Only 20 per cent of trains are understood to be running during the strike, which is set to be repeated on Thursday and Saturday.

Anas Sarwar, Labour’s leader in Scotland, also defied his leader in London, as he was pictured on a picket line with RMT workers.

“Solidarity with those on the picket lines,” Mr Sarwar tweeted, adding: “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.”

Earlier, Kate Osborne, a parliamentary aide to shadow Northern Ireland secretary Peter Kyle, joined striking workers in London, saying: “I’m a trade unionist, I will always stand on the side of the workers.”

And Navendu Mishra – an opposition whip – posted a photograph alongside striking workers, saying: “This treacherous government has underfunded & mismanaged our public transport network for more than a decade.”

Manuel Cortes, head of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, also criticised Labour’s official stance, saying: “This is ridiculous nonsense from the party which was created by trade unions. Solidarity is what our movement is all about.”

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