A senior Labour official told The Sunday Times that “people are popping up from 20 years ago telling him what they think” and that Sir Keir Starmer has been advised to change his mobile number because he has been receiving “too much unsolicited advice.”
Sir Keir is understood to receive advice from Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, though officials said the former prime ministers would be given the current Labour leader’s new mobile number if he were to do so.
An insider is quoted as adding that although Mr. Brown “wants to be involved in big projects,” Mr. Blair “tends to push very Blairite issues like technology and modernity.”
The former PM also offered Rishi Sunak guidance, a Tory insider informed the newspaper. At celebrations for the Good Friday Agreement’s 25th anniversary, the prime minister was observed conversing with Mr. Blair.
“They had a nice chat and compared notes on prime minister’s questions,” the source said. Asked if the chat extended to giving advice, they said: “There was a bit of that, yes.”
At Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Sunak used a quote from Mr Blair against the serving opposition leader, saying: “The right honourable gentleman can be as cocky as he likes about the local elections; come a general election, policy counts.”
According to Si Keir’s aides, Mr. Brown is a frequent source of assistance for the politician.
Mr. Brown released a massive package of constitutional reform ideas last December in an effort to give English regions greater authority and update the devolution agreements for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Sir Keir, the Labour leader, paid him a commission even though he refrained from endorsing the reform plan.
The procedure was described as “classic Gordon” by one of his assistants, who said, “We would be on the Zoom calls with him and people would say, ‘This bit has to go,’ and Gordon would say, ‘Yes, yes,’ and when the paper came back it was 50 pages longer.”
In reference to the former prime minister’s crucial battle with his party to drop a pledge to public ownership of business, Sir Keir on Friday repeated Mr. Blair by referring to a plan to restructure Labour as Clause 4 “on steroids.”
Former British prime ministers have a long history of communicating their opinions to the party leaders that come after them, and not necessarily behind closed doors.
John Major often found Margaret Thatcher to be a pain in his side. After announcing that she would stand down as prime minister to “drive in the backseat,” she continued by giving public counsel and criticizing her successor’s crucial Europe strategy.
Theresa May is said to speak privately with Mr. Sunak frequently, but this hasn’t stopped her from criticizing his policies, notably the contentious plans the government has to deal with small boat crossings.