Labour could move its party headquarters out of London after it emerged that its current offices are due to be demolished as part of a redevelopment project.
Party insiders have confirmed a relocation outside of the capital was being considered as Sir Keir Starmer’s attempts to win back Labour’s northern heartlands were given renewed impetus by a “disastrous” set of local election results.
While no decisions have been made, one source pointed out that Labour already had a large office in Newcastle, which includes a call and communications centre.
A move out of London would also ease pressure on the party’s finances, which have come under strain in recent months due to the fall in “short money” following the 2019 election and uncertainty over the future generosity of left-wing trade unions.
Should the party opt to move its main operations to the North, Sir Keir is likely to frame it as an attempt to make the party less “London-centric”, a perception that many fear has become increasingly problematic.
Despite having strong roots in the North and Midlands, the party’s last two leaders, Jeremy Corbyn and Sir Keir, both represent London seats.
The complaint that successive shadow cabinets have also been filled with a significant number of London MPs has done little to dispel the belief that it is increasingly seen as the party of the “metropolitan elite.”
The move would also mirror Boris Johnson’s efforts to relocate civil service jobs outside of London as part of his levelling up agenda, with the Government recently announcing a series of new hubs in “left behind” areas.
Last year, the Conservative Party also announced that it would be opening a new party base in Leeds, although its central office remains located in Westminster.
However, one Labour source has played down the prospect of a major relocation, pointing out that the party was being forced out of its current headquarters because it is being demolished.
Its offices at 105 Victoria Street are included in a £750 million redevelopment project recently approved by Westminster council, which will see the existing buildings transformed into a 16-storey office and shopping complex.
“It’s one of those things that needs to be taken through the prism of what organisationally, and logistically our operation needs to look like,” the source said.
“There may be some superficial benefit of moving some stuff out of London.”
After large swathes of the so-called “Red Wall” turned blue in 2019, the Conservatives have devoted considerable attention to moving jobs and Whitehall departments out of the capital.
Last year, it was reported that Mr Johnson was even considering moving the House of Lords to York.
Since then, the Treasury has announced a new economic hub in Darlington, with hundreds of civil servants from several government ministries to decamp there in the coming years.
The Department for International Trade is also establishing four new trade hubs in every part of the UK.
As many as 22,000 officials are due to be transferred out of London by the end of the decade.