Rayner fires warning shot to Starmer – will ‘push’ for next Labour leader to be female

PMQs: Angela Rayner shares leadership ‘aspirations’

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The deputy leader is hoping that Sir Keir Starmer’s successor will be the party’s first female leader. She joked that she was happy with the current leader “because I get to be the woman in charge”.

Ms Rayner, who comes from the left-wing of the party, may have been dismayed to see Sir Keir pip fellow leftist and woman Rebecca Long-Bailey to the post when it came to 2020’s leadership contest.

But, speaking to Times Radio on International Women’s Day, the deputy leader was asked if she would consider doing the role herself in the future.

Ms Rayner said: “I think the Labour party is ready and I’m doing the groundwork now to make sure it’s ready by supporting other women and saying you can achieve whatever you want to achieve.

“And if I was to answer you and say, ‘Yeah, I’m going to stand for the leader of the Labour party,’ I hope that that would encourage other women to say, ‘I’m going to stand,’ not say, ‘Oh, well, Angie’s standing so I can’t.”

She added: “I think we’re ready for it and I’d certainly be pushing for it.

“But at the moment I’m happy with Keir because I get to be the woman in charge.”

The MP for Ashton-under-Lyne also acknowledged that her and Sir Keir were not “best of mates”, but had found a way to work with one another.

In February, she also told New Statesman: “I absolutely believe that Keir would make a brilliant Prime Minister. Keir has the utmost respect for me in my role. I don’t feel patronised by Keir, I never have.”

The two figureheads of the Labour Party have had a difficult working relationship, with both taking sometimes very different views on certain issues.

At the Labour conference last September, Sir Keir admitted he had “huge disagreements” with Ms Rayner.

His comments came amid outrage at her use of the word “scum” to describe Conservatives at a conference social event.

Sir Keir said he and Ms Rayner had “different approaches and different styles” of leadership, as he sought to distance himself from her remarks.

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He told Sky News: “It’s not language I would have used.”

Ms Rayner initially refused to apologise for her “Tory scum” comments, which became a literal badge of honour at the Conservative Party conference.

However, she later retracted her comments after she received death threats in the wake of the murder of Sir David Amess.

She has previously spoken out about the abuse and threats that female MPs receive.

The MP for Ashton-under-Lyne said it was more difficult to be a woman in politics due to misogyny and the increased amount of abuse and threats they receive.

Ms Rayner said: “It’s a fact. And that’s across the political spectrum.

“You see the misogyny, unfortunately, that is around that means that women do get it more difficult.”

She added: “I thought that when I became deputy leader [in April 2020], that the abuse and the threats that I got was because I’m deputy leader of the Labour party.

“It actually transpires that many women, even women who were just MPs, without any frontbench role, are getting levels of threats that I get, and I find that absolutely astonishing.

“It is not unique to me, and that in itself is quite a worrying factor.

“It’s not because of who I am, or because of what I say, and I hear it from across the other side of the House as well. Many Conservative MPs, female MPs, get exactly the same.”

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