The Labour leader is in so much trouble now that he has been forced to clear out his top team even before the party goes down to defeat in next week’s Batley and Spen by-election. Ordinarily, this reshuffle of key people in a leader’s office would happen in the days after a drubbing. He’s not even waiting for that. Defeat is now priced in and Starmer has decided to get on with a restructuring in a bid to reset his leadership

In Batley and Spen, Labour is leaking votes to George Galloway and the Tories are miles in front. “It’s very close,” said a Tory source at the weekend, who was lying. The Tories look like they can win by more than 5,000 votes.

Ahead of all that, Baroness Chapman, Jenny Chapman, a friend of Starmer, was removed today as political director. Chapman had clashed with Angela Rayner, deputy leader, and assorted other left-wing colleagues. Chapman is being “promoted”, to shadow Brexit minister David Frost in the Lords. That cannot disguise the setback. She was Starmer’s “political brain”, supposedly the main strategist. It didn’t work and the leader has had to sacrifice his main ally.

Starmer is increasingly isolated at Westminster. His revivalist project looks – right now, absent a stroke of luck – all but doomed.

The team he assembled around him last year after becoming leader has been dismantled. Morgan McSweeney, chief of staff, has been moved. He’ll oversee elections, currently going badly for Labour. The Comms team has been reorganised, with Ben Nunn, his head of communications, resigning last week. Parliamentary private secretary Carolyn Harris is out too. She left last month.