Additional reporting by Sofia Akin
Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield has accused Sir Keir Starmer of snubbing her during his first visit to the county as party leader.
The leader of the opposition visited Gillingham this morning where he met with prospective councillors at the local Labour club in Twydall Lane.
His visit comes just less than a month before residents go to the polls on Thursday, May 4 and he was met with applause by local party members.
But Kent's only Labour MP Ms Duffield was not in attendance during the Medway rally and suggested this was due to Sir Keir.
In a tweet which has now been seen by more than 66,000 people, the MP for Canterbury and Whitstable said: "What a shame he didn't see fit to tell his only Kent MP about his first visit to our county".
When asked if Ms Duffield had his backing at the next election, after she resigned from her frontbench role over breaking lockdown rules, Sir Keir told KMTV: "Rosie Duffield is a really important voice in the Parliamentary Labour party and I want every member of the Parliamentary Labour party to be treated with tolerance and respect.
"People are crying out for a bold, reforming Labour government..."
"Canterbury is a very important seat for us. I also want the party to focus on some of the difficult issues here."
Ms Duffield's tweet was met with both sympathy and criticism on social media.
"You are right but this is the wrong way to do this. I say that as a supporter," replied one user.
While another advised: "As a constituent of yours, please try to be a united front and rub along with KS so we can get these Tory's out and then sort out differences later. Priorities."
Ms Duffield has been a vocal critic of her party in recent months, comparing being a Labour MP to being in an abusive relationship.
In a column written for website UnHerd she suggests the opposition has a “women problem”, after being "shouted down" by colleagues for her stance on trans rights.
Her controversial remark was subsequently referenced by Rishi Sunak in Prime Minister's question time.
This week, Medway Labour Group put forward 59 candidates for Medway's full council election.
Since it was created in 1998, the unitary authority of Medway has only ever been majority ruled by the Conservatives. Nominations for all parties will be announced on Wednesday, April 5.
At this morning's event Sir Keir Starmer spoke of wanting to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour, hospital waiting lists and spoke out against council tax hikes during the cost of living crisis.
Medway Labour Group Leader Cllr Vince Maple assured those gathered at Gillingham Labour Club that the visit was not an elaborate April Fool's joke.
The MP's visit included meeting and greeting with prospective councillors, giving speeches to members inside the club in Twydall Lane, and speaking to the press.
He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: "I think the very important thing - and you have seen it this morning here in Medway - is Labour has changed, is facing the voters, is optimistic, and wants to build a better Kent, wants to build a better Britain.
"Many people I am meeting here in Kent are saying to me they are fed up now with 13 years of a Tory government which has done nothing for them.
The Labour party and Sir Keir's office were contacted for comment.