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Angela Rayner: From union rep to Labour deputy leader

·2-min read

Angela Rayner has held a number of high-profile positions in her relatively short time on the green benches, first winning favour with the party leadership during Jeremy Corbyn’s premiership.

The 41-year-old, who was sacked from her role as party chairman and national campaign co-ordinator of Labour on Saturday following a disappointing set of local election results for Sir Keir Starmer, was first elected to Parliament in 2015.

Less than a year after taking the Ashton-Under-Lyne seat she was made shadow minister for pensions in January 2016, before moving to the women and equalities brief that June.

Regional Mayoral elections
Sir Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner on the election campaign trail (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

By July 2016, she was shadow secretary of state for education, a role that she would hold until Sir Keir replaced Mr Corbyn at the top of the party in April 2020.

Her appearances at the despatch box were punchy and in January 2017 she accused ministers of “robbing Peterborough to pay for Poole” as they attempted to ease the impact of school funding cuts.

Ms Rayner did not stand for the party leadership in 2020, instead supporting her close friend Rebecca Long-Bailey for the top job, while she successfully went for the deputy role.

Her appointments to the roles of chair and shadow first secretary of state followed quickly after the election results.

Throughout the pandemic Ms Rayner backed party leader Sir Keir and defended the party’s approach to the crisis, while criticising the Government on issues such as the lack of pay rise for NHS staff and the overall death toll.

After leaving school at 16 when she was pregnant with her first child, Ms Rayner later qualified as a care worker after attending college.

She told local paper the Oldham Evening Chronicle in 2014 that her mother “hardly went to school and can’t read nor write, and my father hardly ever worked due to health issues”.

Before she was elected to Parliament, Ms Rayner had climbed the ranks at Unison in the north-west of England, having started as a trade union representative during her time working in care in Stockport.

She has three children and became a grandmother in 2017, as she proudly dubbed herself “Grangela” announcing in an early-morning tweet that she had become a grandmother for the first time at the age of 37.