Who is Angela Rayner? Labour deputy leader made Shadow Levelling-Up Secretary in reshuffle

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Angela Rayner has been given the levelling-up brief amid the latest Labour reshuffle

Angela Rayner has succeeded Lisa Nandy as the Shadow Levelling-Up Secretary amid Keir Starmer’s latest Labour reshuffle.

The role has been described by the Labour leader as "important" and positions Rayner as a key figure in the new government, if Labour are to win the next general election.

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Rayner held a number of shadow cabinet roles, including Shadow Education Secretary - from 2016 to 2020 - under former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The appointment means Lisa Nandy - who previously held the levelling-up brief - will cover international trade as part of the Foreign Office. The role is seen as a big demotion but Nandy will still attend the Shadow Cabinet.

Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, also had a mini Cabinet re-shuffle last week in which he gave new appointments to Grant Shapps and Claire Coutinho. But who is the new Levelling-Up Secretary, what is her political career?

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Who is Angela Rayner?

Angela Rayner was born in 1980 and grew up in Stockport, Greater Manchester. According to an interview, Rayner was brought up in a impoverished council estate by her mum, who was unable to read or write, and her dad, who was in out and of work due to health issues.

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Rayner attended Avondale Secondary Modern but left the institution after falling pregnant at 16 and becoming a single parent, With only seven low-grade GCSE’s to her name, Rayner went on to study part-time at Stockport College, gaining an NVQ in social care.

Prior to getting involved in politics, worked for Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council as a care worker. Upon hearing council plans to privatising the care service, she was elected as a trade union representative for Unison.

Angela Rayner was born in 1980 and grew up in Stockport, Greater ManchesterAngela Rayner was born in 1980 and grew up in Stockport, Greater Manchester
Angela Rayner was born in 1980 and grew up in Stockport, Greater Manchester

While leading the fight for for her care-home colleagues, Rayner rose the ranks at Unison and became the assistant branch secretary. In 2010, Rayner married fellow trade union officer, Mark Rayner. The pair share three sons.

What is Angela Rayner’s political career?

In 2006, Angela Rayner joined the Labour Party. Eight years later, she won the nomination to contest the Ashton-under-Lyne seat, which was to be vacated by the retiring David Heyes. At the 2015 General Election, Rayner won the seat, with a majority of 4,263.

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Following Jeremy Corbyn’s victory at the 2016 Labour Party leadership election, more than two dozen members of the Shadow Cabinet resigned leading to a major reshuffle. Rayner - who backed Jeremy Corbyn against the challenging Owen Smith - was subsequently appointed as Shadow Secretary of State for Education.

During her role, Rayner was lauded for leading Labour’s notion to create a National Education Service (NES) modelled on the NHS. Outlining the pledge, as part of Labour’s 2017 election manifesto, Rayner said the service would be "lifelong, providing for people at every stage of their life".

Rayner was re-elected at the 2019 general election and successfully stood for Deputy Leader of Kier Starmer’s new Labour Party a year later. Starmer then appointed Rayner Shadow Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Chair of the Labour Party.

Rayner is a fan of former Labour MP and Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham - backing him in the 2015 Labour leadership election. She also called Conservative MP Chris Clarkson “scum” for criticising Burnham in a speech given in Parliament - later apologising for her remarks, the BBC reports.

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After losing 327 Labour Party councillors at the 2021 Local Elections, Keir Starmer removed Rayner from her post as Chair of the Labour Party and campaign coordinator. Rayner was subsequently appointed Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Shadow Secretary of State for the Future of Work.

Later that year, during the opening day of the Labour Party’s five-day conference in Brighton, Rayner reportedly told activists: “We cannot get any worse than a bunch of scum, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, absolute pile … of banana republic… Etonian… piece of scum.”

Rayner initially backed the remarks, saying they were a bid to express her "anger and frustration" with the Boris Johnson and his Cabinet. Although she later apologised for her comments the following month.

Rayner has suffered a lot of online abuse and threats, being a female politician.

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In 2019, she had panic alarms installed at her family home after receiving death threats, while in 2021, a 52-year-old man was given a suspended prison sentence for sending a threatening email to the Deputy Labour leader.

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