Angela Rayner blasts ‘desperate tactics’ by Tories after police drop council house probe

Starmer says deputy leader ‘has been vindicated’ as Rayner blames ‘desperate tactics’ by Tories

Tara Cobham
Wednesday 29 May 2024 07:18 BST
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Angela Rayner and me are working class success stories, Wes Streeting says

Angela Rayner has been vindicated, Sir Keir Starmer said on Tuesday after police dropped a probe into Tory allegations about her council house.

After months of investigation, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said the party’s deputy leader will face no further action over claims she broke electoral law over her living situation a decade ago.

She welcomed the news but blamed the saga on “desperate tactics” by the Tories.

It was another huge boost for Labour as the general election campaign entered its sixth full day, with shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves promising to “lead the most pro-growth, the most pro-business Treasury that our country has ever seen.”

As Labour positioned itself as the party of business, Rishi Sunak’s “triple-lock plus” promise to pensioners was dismissed by the Institute for Fiscal Studies as a reversal of the Tories’ own tax policy.

The investigation into Ms Rayner followed a complaint from Conservative deputy chairman James Daly over the 2015 sale of her council house in Stockport and whether she had provided false information about her main address during the 2010s.

Keir Starmer said Angela Rayner ‘has been vindicated’
Keir Starmer said Angela Rayner ‘has been vindicated’ (Getty )

She had faced claims she broke electoral law, failed to pay capital gains tax, and falsely received a single-occupancy council tax discount. But Stockport Council also said on Tuesday that it would not be taking action.

Ms Rayner had promised to resign if she was found to have committed a crime.

A spokesperson for GMP said the force had “completed a thorough, carefully considered and proportionate investigation,” adding: “We have concluded that no further police action will be taken.”

HM Revenue and Customs would not comment on individual cases but it is understood it has already looked into the matter at Ms Rayner’s request and concluded there was no capital gains tax liability.

Labour leader Sir Keir said Ms Rayner “has been vindicated,” adding: “I never doubted that Angela hadn’t done anything wrong and now she’s been cleared by the police.”

Ms Rayner said she was “grateful to all those who have stood by and supported me and my family”. She issued a statement saying: “We have seen the Conservative Party use this playbook before – reporting political opponents to the police during election campaigns to distract from their dire record.”

“The public have had enough of these desperate tactics from a Tory government with nothing else to say after 14 years of failure.”

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting previously hit out at the treatment of Ms Rayner. Speaking exclusively to The Independent, he said the whole saga made his “blood boil” and accused critics of attacking her because “she is a working class success story”.

Questions about Ms Rayner’s living arrangements first surfaced following the publication of an unauthorised biography by former Tory deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft.

In the book, the peer wrote that the MP for Ashton-under-Lyne bought her former council house in Vicarage Road, Stockport in 2007 under the right-to-buy scheme. Her then husband was listed at another address about a mile away, which was also bought under the scheme.

Angela Rayner and Keir Starmer speak to the media on the first day of the 2024 general election campaign
Angela Rayner and Keir Starmer speak to the media on the first day of the 2024 general election campaign (Getty )

In the same year as her wedding, Ms Rayner was reported to have re-registered the births of her two youngest children, giving her address as the house in which her husband resided. Ms Rayner has insisted that Vicarage Road was her “principal property” despite her husband living elsewhere at the time.

She has faced questions about whether she should have paid capital gains tax when her home was sold and whether she paid the correct amount of council tax, while Mr Daly had alleged she may have made a false declaration about where she was living on the electoral register.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The police have now completed their investigation into claims made by the Conservative Party deputy chairman and have concluded that no further action will be taken. Angela cooperated fully with the police investigation throughout.

James Daly MP had alleged Ms Rayner may have made a false declaration on the electoral register about where she was living
James Daly MP had alleged Ms Rayner may have made a false declaration on the electoral register about where she was living (PA )

“Angela has always been clear that she was not liable for capital gains tax on the sale of the home she owned before she was an MP, that she was properly registered to vote, and paid the appropriate council tax. She took expert tax and legal advice which confirms this.

“This draws a line under the matter.”

The Tories said Ms Rayner "still hasn't provided an explanation" in the row over her living arrangements.

A spokesperson said: “As the tax expert and Labour Party member Dan Neidle has said, Rayner still hasn't provided an explanation. Sir Keir Starmer could easily clear this up by simply reading and then publishing the tax advice Labour claims will exonerate his under-fire deputy.”

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