Labour conference 2021: Timetable, events and drama as Keir Starmer heads to Brighton

MPs, delegates and activists are gathering for Labour’s first in-person conference since 2019. Here’s what to look out for.

MPs, activists and trade union figures gather in Brighton from today as Keir Starmer prepares for his first in-person Labour conference since being elected leader.

As ever, the event will be a battleground between the party’s different factions over what the party does next. But it will also be packed with barnstorming speeches from shadow ministers, rallies and lively political debate.

Before the conference gets underway, Starmer faces a battle to get a string of controversial rule changes past trade union leaders and the party’s ruling National Executive Committee.

He hopes to stamp his authority on the party by changing leadership rules, cutting the number of conference motions and raising the threshold by which MPs can face a deselection threat, but his proposals face fierce opposition.

If he does get a package of reforms to a vote on the conference floor one of the days of conference, it sets the stage for a major clash between Starmer’s and the party’s Left.

Here are all the other highlights to look out for.


Labour Deputy Leader Angela Rayner



What : Labour Deputy Leader Angela Rayner. Keir Starmer’s deputy will be the party’s opening act this year and can be relied on to deliver a rousing call to arms. She is also expected to unveil new policies as part of her future of work brief.

When: 3pm

What: Vote on general secretary David Evans’ appointment. This will be the big flashpoint between Keir Starmer and the Labour Left, and a test of the leader’s authority within his party.

When: from 4.20pm

What : Len McCluskey, in conversation with the Daily Mirror’s Kevin Maguire. The former boss of Unite the union will share his reflections on the Labour Party after stepping down as general secretary earlier this year. He was a well known supporter of Jeremy Corbyn’s and will no doubt share his thoughts on Labour and Keir Starmer.

When: 5.30pm

What : Bernie Sanders in conversation with John McDonnell at The World Transformed. The former Shadow Chancellor will chew the fat with the US Senator who ran twice ran to be the Democrats’ presidential candidate, losing to Hilary Clinton and then Joe Biden despite vibrant campaigns fought from the Left.

When : 6pm


The Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham



What: Shadow Culture Secretary Jo Stevens. The Starmer ally UK’s fast growing sector, how culture defines Britain in 2023 and how Labour would tackle online harms in the age of social media

When : 12pm

What : Scottish Labour Leader Anas Sarwar and Welsh FM Carwyn Jones at ‘Brexit isn’t working: What can Labour do?” fringe. The two senior figures join long-serving MP Hilary Benn and others to discuss Labour policy on Europe

When : 12.30pm

What : Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and the Mirror’s own Kevin Maguire will be joined by Covid survivors for the Mirror’s Real Britain fringe event. The group will discuss how the Tories handled the pandemic and the forthcoming public inquiry, due to start in spring.

When : 12.45pm

What : Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth in conversation with the Mirror’s Ben Glaze. The frontbencher will reflect on the Covid pandemic, health inequalities and Labour’s health policies.

When : 3.15pm

What : Shadow Transport Secretary Jim McMahon. Expect an excoriating attack on ministers’ failure to handle the HGV driver shortage leading to panic-buying, empty shelves in supermarkets and the threat of Christmas supply chain chaos.

When : 4pm

What : Jeremy Corbyn at The World Transformed. The former leader will be alongside Clive Lewis and leftwing firebrand Zarah Sultana at the TWT political festival, to demand climate action.

What : Vote on the party’s action plan on anti-Semitism. After the Equality and Human Rights Commission found the party had harassed Jewish members, Starmer proscribed a number of group and began expelling members. The debate before this vote will be heated and a juncture for pro-Corbyn activists to vent their fury at the former leader’s suspension as a Labour MP.

When : 4.20pm

What: Shadow Child Poverty Secretary Wes Streeting joins the Mirror’s Kevin Maguire to discuss how poor families are coping post-pandemic as the £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit looms.

When : 5.45pm


Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves


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What:Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband.The ex-leader turned podcast star and Labour’s climate change brain will offer his insights on Labour’s plan to get Britain to net zero.

When : 10.15am

What : Shadow Trade Secretary Emily Thornberry. Starmer’s former rival for the leadership will set out how Labour would strike trade deals and build closer ties with Europe.

When : 11am

What : Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Reynolds. Expect to hear more detail on what Labour would replace Universal Credit with in post-pandemic Britain.

When : 11.30am

What : Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves. The former Bank of England economist who squares up to Rishi Sunak in the Commons will set out Labour’s vision for the economy in what will be one of the most-closely watched speeches of the conference.

When : 12pm

What : Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford at The World Transformed. Returned with a majority in the Senedd earlier this year, he will offer his reflections on whether a universal basic income, which has been trialled in parts of the UK, is viable.

What : Shadow Communities Secretary Steve Reed. The speech will touch on Labour’s response to Michael Gove’s levelling up agenda and unveil a plan to devolve power to local government

When : 2.45pm

What : John Bercow, in conversation with Jonathan Freedland. All eyes will be on this event. The former Tory MP who was Commons Speaker throughout the Brexit wars is now a Labour Party. Here, he will open up about why.

When : 7.30pm


Labour Shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy


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What : Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green. Lockdown saw millions of children miss out on learning. How Labour would ensure social isn’t irrevocably damaged as a result will feature in Green’s speech. Shadow Child Poverty Secretary Wes Streeting will also offer his insights.

When : 10am onwards

What : Jeremy Corbyn at The World Transformed. The former leader will speak about the Iraq War, 20 years on from the conflict

When : 1pm

What : Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas Symonds. Priti Patel’s failures on policing and the immigration crisis will be picked apart, and Starmer’s close ally will set out Labour’s approach to tackling crime.

When : 2.15pm

What : Shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy. The record low rate of rape prosecutions, race inequality in the justice system, human rights and Lammy’s take on his new Tory opposite Dominic Raab should make for a rabble-rousing speech.

When: 2.15pm

What: Liverpool Mayor Steve Rotheram in conversation with Daily Mirror Editor Alison Phillips. The Merseyside Mayor will reflect on Labour’s tumultuous recent history and how its city region mayors can help rebuild the party.

When : 5.30pm

What : Rally for Socialism. Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and a string of prominent left-wingers, including John McDonnell, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Clive Lewis will make tub-thumping speeches demanding Starmer to back more socialist policies.

When : 7pm


Labour Party leader Keir Starmer



What : Keir Starmer’s speech. A huge moment for the Labour leader as he gives his first in-person address to his party. The former director of public prosecutions will not only want to showcase a Labour Party ready for power but also to demonstrate he is in command of his party in the wake of the Corbyn era.

When : 12.00


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