Keir Starmer is set to lose another of his closest aides as it has been confirmed that Chris Ward, his political adviser and speechwriter, will leave the Labour leader’s top team.
LabourList understands that Ward, the leader’s longest-serving aide, is stepping back to take a break from politics after advising Starmer since 2015, through general elections, the leadership election and the pandemic.
The political adviser will be leaving on good terms with the Labour leader, sources say, and there are currently no plans to backfill the role. His departure will not be immediate and he will remain in post for a period.
Responding to the story, Starmer’s former deputy director of communications Paul Ovenden tweeted: “A top man. Hard to believe I’ll never again get a call at 11am on a Wednesday to say “I’ve just made a couple of tweaks on PMQs…””.
It also recently emerged that Tom Hughes, a former aide to shadow minister Sarah Jones who worked on Starmer’s leadership campaign before joining the leader’s office as press officer and spokesperson, will be leaving shortly.
Over the weekend, it was announced that Starmer’s chief of staff Morgan McSweeney, who ran his leadership campaign last year, has been appointed as Labour’s new elections chief in the party headquarters.
McSweeney will be replaced in Starmer’s office by Sam White, a 46-year-old former Treasury special adviser who worked for Alistair Darling during the Tony Blair and Gordon Brown administrations.
There have been many changes to ‘LOTO’ (the leader’s office) in recent weeks, with Jenny Chapman being moved from director of politics to shadow Brexit minister and director of communications Ben Nunn also leaving.
Nunn has been replaced on an interim basis by Matthew Doyle, a former press spokesman and adviser to Blair and political director to the former Prime Minister’s office once he left Downing Street.
Labour left staffer Ben Folley also confirmed today that he is leaving his role as secretary of the Parliamentary Labour Party after two years.