Rayner plays down rift in 'yin and yang' relationship with Starmer

Keir ‘cheeses me off sometimes’: Angela Rayner admits her and Starmer are ‘ying and yang’ as she warns Labour that internal ‘power struggle’ rows make the party look like ‘bald men fighting over combs’

  • Deputy leader tried to draw a line under a factional row over election results 
  • Said while Starmer ‘cheeses me off sometimes’ they had a good relationship
  • Sir Keir tried to sack her in the wake of poor ‘Super Thursday’ election results 

Angela Rayner attempted to calm Labour’s explosive civil war today, warning that the party will be out of power until it stops looking like ‘bald men fighting over combs’.

The deputy leader attempted to draw a line under a factional row with leader Keir Starmer that reopened the wounds between the moderate and Left wings of the party.

She insisted that while he ‘cheeses me off sometimes’ they had a good relationship, after a week of headlines about party infighting. 

Sir Keir tried to sack Ms Rayner last week in the wake of the party’s poor ‘Super Thursday’ election results before backing down and offering her a more high-profile job in the face of backbench fury. 

Ms Rayner today blamed the row in the wake of the loss of the Hartlepool by-election on a small group of people ‘in a power struggle’ and insisted that while she and Sir Keir were ‘ying and yang’ they had a ‘really good relationship’.  

Speaking to Politico’s Westminster Insider podcast she also admitted that the party had lost in Hartlepool ‘before we even picked a candidate’.

And in perhaps the most eyebrow-raising part of the show the 42-year-old grandmother and former single mum admitted that if she was a teenager again she might vote for Boris Johnson because he is ‘a bit spicy’ and ‘authentic’.

The deputy leader attempted to draw a line under a factional row with leader Keir Starmer that reopened the wounds between the moderate and Left wings of the party.

Angela is a former Stockport teenage single mother and child carer who hauled herself up the political ladder through sheer hard work in her community, after caring for her mother from the age of 10 and having a baby six years later. 

The flame-haired 42-year-old has drawn on her experience as a one-time struggling teenage mother throughout her political career.  

She proudly welcomed her own granddaughter at the age of just 37 in 2017 with a tweet jokingly referring to herself as ‘Grangela’ after son Ryan Ryan became a father to baby Lilith Mae.

Ms Rayner was just 16 when she had Ryan, and has told how becoming pregnant so young ‘saved’ her.

She  has two other sons aged under 10, Jimmy and Charlie, who was born at 23 weeks and is registered blind.

She says Charlie would not be alive today without the NHS.

Her teenage relationship with Ryan’s father ended quickly and married Unison official Mark Rayner. But they split up last summer.   It is not known if she has found love again, but The Sun claimed she had become ‘increasingly close’ to former Labour campaign chief Sam Tarry, 38. 

She also acted as a carer to her mother, Lynn Bowen, when just a child.

In 202 she opened up about her tough early life, revealing she once had to have her sectioned to prevent her from self-harming. 

In a joint interview with ITV News, Ms Bowen credits her daughter with saving her, saying she would not have survived without her.

‘I was in a very dark place, she used to bath me, look after me, feed me,’ Ms Bowen said of her daughter.

‘If it wasn’t for her I don’t think I’d be here today.’

Ms Rayner  was only elected to Parliament as the Labour MP for Ashton-under-Lyne for the first time in 2015 but she has swiftly risen up the ranks to national prominence. 

It did not take long for her to be welcomed to the Labour frontbench under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn as she was made shadow education secretary in 2016. . 

She swiftly launched a bid for the party’s deputy leadership in the aftermath of the car crash poll, standing on a so-called hard-left ‘dream ticket’ with Westminster housemate and former frontbencher Rebecca Long-Bailey who put herself forward for the top job. 

However, unlike Ms Long-Bailey, who rated Mr Corbyn’ leadership 10/10, she was unafraid to criticise him.

In February 2020 she said he failed as Labour leader because he ‘didn’t command respect’ and had not been able to unite the party.  

Sir Keir faced attacks from all sides of the party after he removed Ms Rayner as party chairwoman, which was seen as trying to blame her for the poor election results in the North.

It was followed by a botched reshuffle in which she, Annaliese Dodds and Rachel Reeves also shuffled frontbench roles. The moves led to suggestions that Ms Rayner had actually emerged with more power rather than less. 

Addressing the row she said: ‘There is a small group that get the headlines that are just in a power struggle.  

‘And that’s nonsense – because we’re not in power in Westminster. And we won’t be in power in Westminster for a very long time, until we start realising that we look like bald men fighting over combs!’

She added: ‘The thing is, me and Keir are like ying and yang, I’ve said this before. I just like to say it how it is. 

‘So I go in there like the trade unionist I am and I’m like, right, I’m not happy about this, and what’s gone on here? 

‘And Keir’s like this incredibly professional guy. So he’s like, oh, OK, this is what I think. And so it’s just like the two worlds collide. But I will say this about Keir – he is a total professional and he does want to do the right thing. I wouldn’t be still with him, as they say, if I didn’t think he could do that. 

‘Do you know what I mean? The trust and the bond hasn’t been broken. You know, he might cheese me off now and again, but that’s how partnerships are like that, aren’t there? You know, you get annoyed with your boss sometimes, it’s just – that’s how things are.’

After two years of Boris Johnson picking up votes in former Laboutr Red wall constituencies, she also admitted that voters liked his style of presentation. 

‘I think a lot of people like the authenticity. For a long time, people have felt that politicians are just saying what they think they want to hear,’ she admitted.

‘Or they try to ”triangulate” is the word that they use, isn’t it? Triangulation. I call it magnolia politics. Let’s not offend anyone, and have no opinion on anything, sort of thing. And as you are all aware, that’s kind of not me.’

She continued: ‘The Angie Rayner at 18 would have liked someone a bit spicy, and willing to throw a grenade in – not like a real one, you know, I’m not actually advocating real violence. 

‘But, you know, that’s why we like soaps, isn’t it? We like a bit of like a bit of argy bargy or someone is going to, like, upset what the norm is.’

Labour, which had held Hartlepool for half a century, lost the seat last week to the Tories’ Jill Mortimer, who picked up a majority of just under 7,000.

Asked if it had been a mistake for Labour to pick a Remainer, local doctor Paul Williams, in an area with one of the highest Leave vote sin the UK, she said: ‘I don’t really think it was that. I think it’s an emotional, emotional shift away from Labour that takes time to get back…

‘I haven’t given up on that, because I think the people of Hartlepool are tremendously resilient, and great people that are emotionally connected to our history as a movement. 

‘But we’ve got to earn that respect back. We can’t just ask them and say, OK, we’ve got a different leader – now vote for us. It takes a lot longer to earn that respect back.’ 

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