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Angela Rayner
Official portrait of Angela Rayner MP crop 2.jpg
Official portrait, 2019
Deputy Leader of the Opposition
Shadow Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Assumed office
5 April 2020
Leader Keir Starmer
Preceded by Emily Thornberry
Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
Assumed office
4 April 2020
Leader Keir Starmer
Preceded by Tom Watson
Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
Assumed office
4 September 2023
Leader Keir Starmer
Preceded by Lisa Nandy
Member of Parliament
for Ashton-under-Lyne
Assumed office
7 May 2015
Preceded by David Heyes
Majority 4,263 (11.1%)
Personal details
Angela Bowen

(1980-03-28) 28 March 1980 (age 44)
Stockport, Greater Manchester, England
Political party Labour
Mark Rayner
(m. 2010; sep. 2020)
Children 3
Residences Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, England
Alma mater Stockport College

Angela Rayner (née Bowen; born 28 March 1980) is a British politician serving as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party since 2020 and Shadow Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities since 2023. Rayner has been Member of Parliament (MP) for Ashton-under-Lyne since 2015. She ideologically identifies as a socialist and as being part of Labour's soft left.

Rayner was born and raised in Stockport, where she attended the state secondary Avondale School. She left school aged 16 whilst pregnant and without any qualifications. She later trained in social care at Stockport College and worked for the local council as a care worker. She eventually became a trade union representative within Unison, during which time she joined the Labour Party. Selected to contest Ashton‑under‑Lyne in 2014 and elected for the seat at the 2015 general election, she was appointed Shadow Minister for Pensions by Jeremy Corbyn in January 2016.

Rayner was promoted in July 2016 to the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities. As Shadow Education Secretary, she proposed the creation of a National Education Service modelled on the National Health Service (NHS). She endorsed Rebecca Long-Bailey in the 2020 Labour Party leadership election, who came second to Keir Starmer, then successfully stood for the deputy leadership, after which she was appointed Shadow First Secretary of State. She was also appointed party chair and national campaign coordinator but was removed from these roles in a reshuffle following Labour's poor performance at the 2021 local elections, subsequently being appointed Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Shadow Secretary of State for the Future of Work. She was promoted from Shadow First Secretary of State to Shadow Deputy Prime Minister in a 2023 reshuffle, and was also appointed Shadow Levelling-Up Secretary and Strategic Lead for Labour's New Deal.

Early life and career

Rayner was born on 28 March 1980 in Stockport, Greater Manchester. She attended Avondale School in Stockport, leaving the school aged 16 after becoming pregnant, and did not obtain any qualifications. She later studied part-time at Stockport College, learning British Sign Language, and gaining an NVQ Level 2 in social care.

After leaving college, Rayner worked for Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council as a care worker for a number of years. During this time, she was also elected as a trade union representative for Unison. She was later elected as convenor of Unison North West, becoming the union's most senior official in the region. The Guardian featured a lengthy profile of Rayner in 2012, as part of an article on a trade union officer's working life.

Member of Parliament

In September 2014, Rayner was selected as the Labour Party's candidate for Ashton-under-Lyne, on the retirement of David Heyes. She won the seat at the 2015 general election, increasing the Labour majority and its share of the vote. She delivered her maiden speech on 2 June 2015.

Rayner nominated Andy Burnham in the 2015 Labour leadership election, but was one of just 18 MPs to back the incumbent Jeremy Corbyn against Owen Smith in the 2016 leadership election.

On 1 July 2016, after a series of resignations from the shadow cabinet, Corbyn appointed Rayner as Shadow Secretary of State for Education. She supported the notion of a 'National Education Service' to be modelled along similar lines to the National Health Service (NHS), also promoting an increase in funding for early years education. She was considered by some as a possible future Labour leader.

Rallying in Falmouth (49168536158)
Rayner rallying in Falmouth for the Labour Party in November 2019 for the general election campaign

In the 2019 general election, Rayner was returned as MP for the third time in five years. She did not stand for the Labour leadership in the 2020 leadership election, supporting her flatmate Rebecca Long-Bailey, who came second to Keir Starmer. She stood successfully for Deputy Leader, elected on 4 April 2020, replacing Tom Watson. In the following days she was appointed Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Shadow First Secretary of State and Chair of the Labour Party. In October 2020 Rayner called Conservative MP Chris Clarkson "scum" as he was giving a speech in Parliament. She later apologised. Clarkson had been critical of Andy Burnham, who had been seeking financial support for Greater Manchester following local restrictions on businesses being introduced. Clarkson's constituency falls within the boundaries of Greater Manchester, as does Rayner's.

Rayner was appointed to Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council on 12 February 2021.

Rayner was removed from her roles as the Labour Party's chair and national campaign coordinator in a reshuffle by Starmer on 8 May 2021, following the 2021 local elections. Rayner was subsequently appointed Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Shadow Secretary of State for the Future of Work.

In September 2021, Rayner strongly criticised senior members of the Conservative Party, stating: "We cannot get any worse than a bunch of scum, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, absolute pile... of banana republic... Etonian... piece of scum". Some Labour MPs, while saying it was not the language that they would have used, defended her comments, including Steve Reed, John McDonnell and Lisa Nandy. Starmer distanced himself from her remarks, but said it was up to Rayner if she wanted to apologise or not, while other Labour MPs, including shadow cabinet ministers, condemned her in stronger terms.

The former Labour cabinet minister Lord Adonis said that if Rayner did not apologise for her comments, Starmer should say that he no longer has confidence in her as the deputy leader of the party. Adonis told Times Radio that her remarks were a way to start an election campaign for the leadership of the Labour Party. Several Conservative MPs, including Grant Shapps, Amanda Milling and Oliver Dowden, condemned her comments. Rayner later apologised for her comments in light of the murder of David Amess, a Conservative MP, the following month.

On 24 April 2022, Rayner was the subject of a report in The Mail on Sunday, by Glen Owen, in which it was alleged that she had tried to distract Boris Johnson in the Commons by crossing and uncrossing her legs in a similar manner to Sharon Stone in a scene from the 1992 film Basic Instinct. The report was subsequently condemned by a range of voices across the political spectrum including the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the House. The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) reported that it had received 5,500 complaints about the article and was exploring possible breaches of its code of practice. Lia Nici, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, later repeated the claims in a BBC interview, in which Nici made reference to "honesty" and "integrity".

In May 2022, Rayner said she would resign if she received a fixed penalty notice for breaching COVID-19 regulations while campaigning during the run-up to the Hartlepool by-election and local elections the previous year. The controversy surrounding the event was dubbed "Beergate". They were both cleared by Durham Police in July 2022 who said there was "no case to answer".

On 4 September 2023, Keir Starmer appointed Rayner as shadow levelling up secretary, and shadow deputy prime minister.

Political views

Angela Rayner, 2020 Labour Party deputy leadership election hustings, Bristol
Rayner speaking at the 2020 Labour Party deputy leadership election hustings in Bristol

Rayner identifies as a socialist. In a 2017 interview to The Guardian discussing her political beliefs, Rayner highlighted her pragmatism, describing herself as being part of the "soft left" of the Labour Party. She has strongly criticised former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, as he "did not command the respect of the party", and critiqued his lack of "discipline" when it came to dealing with allegations of antisemitism.

Rayner has described herself as "quite hardline" on law and order issues, having suffered from antisocial behaviour when she was young. In an interview, she said police should "shoot your terrorists and ask questions second" and that she had told her local police force to "beat down the door of the criminals and sort them out and antagonise them."

Rayner has made a political point of her working-class roots. She has asked Hansard transcribers not to correct her speeches, preferring purportedly "incorrect" grammar "because it's who I am".

A member of the Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East, Rayner has condemned the killings of Palestinians during the Great March of Return and has repeatedly cited Israeli violations of human rights against Palestinians on social media.

Rayner has said that she "didn’t have a particularly strong view either way" on Brexit. She campaigned and voted to remain in the European Union (EU) during the 2016 Brexit referendum. After the referendum result, she voted in favour of Article 50, arguing that although she was "fiercely pro-EU" she was "also a democrat". She opposed Labour's policy for a second referendum adopted under Jeremy Corbyn and argued that it would "undermine democracy". She also opposed a delay to Article 50. When asked how she would vote in a second referendum in December 2019, Rayner said she would vote leave as long as the withdrawal agreement "protects the economy and jobs".

Personal life

In 2010, Rayner married Mark Rayner, a Unison official..She has three sons, the first born when she was aged 16. Her second son Charlie was born prematurely at 23 weeks and Rayner says that the care that her son received demonstrated the importance of the NHS to her. Rayner lives in her constituency of Ashton-under-Lyne with her family. She became a grandmother in November 2017. Rayner and her husband separated in 2020. In the summer of 2022 journalists began reporting that Rayner was "in a relationship" with Labour MP Sam Tarry, which the pair have neither confirmed nor denied.

In an interview in 2018, Rayner said that her mother had been unable to read or write; she had previously mentioned this in a tribute she made to her mother in 2016. In a 2022 interview, Rayner said that she grew up in poverty on a council estate and could have been taken into care. In the same interview, she recounted that after a year-long training programme to lose over six stone in weight, she took out a bank loan of £5,600 for cosmetic surgery on her 30th birthday.

See also

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