Keir Starmer is set to reshape his communications team in the leader’s office, as his director of communications Ben Nunn and deputy director Paul Ovenden have both confirmed that they will be stepping down.
Nunn, who worked for Starmer when he was Shadow Brexit Secretary, headed up his communication team during the Labour leadership election and has ties to the MP’s Camden seat, told Labour staff today that he was quitting. It is understood he leaves on good terms with Starmer, who has said the door is open to him in future.
”It has been the privilege of my life to work for Keir these past four years and to help elect him to be leader of the Labour Party. I remain as convinced today as I ever have been that he will be a great Prime Minister and make this a better, stronger, more prosperous country.
“The decision to step down has been one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to take… I’ve had the opportunity to learn and experience so much. Now is the chance for me to go forward and do something different,” he wrote in an email to staff.
It is understood that Nunn will not be leaving with immediate effect, but staying in the job for a further couple of weeks. One Labour staffer told LabourList that Nunn has “not just held the wheels for the last year, he’s essentially been keeping the car on the road” and has been “putting out fires non-stop for a year”.
LabourList can reveal that Stephanie Driver has been asked to stay on in the Labour leader’s office and step up as director of communications to the Labour leader while plans are made for Starmer’s new communications team.
Driver worked for the Fabian Society until recently and is a former Labour employee. She has worked in the past for Ed Balls, for Harriet Harman, as Labour’s south west regional press officer and as head of events in Jeremy Corbyn’s leader’s office.
Paul Ovenden will also being stepping down due to family reasons and caring responsibilities. Commenting on his departure, shadow cabinet member David Lammy said: “He has been a very effective, steely calm and persuasive operator in that role. Family must always [come] first but he will be missed for sure.”
Pressure has been building over recent months as party insiders and commentators have urged Starmer to make changes to his office. His director of politics Jenny Chapman was expected to be moved after being offered a peerage, but it was reported last week that she will be staying put.