Wes Streeting says furore over Angela Rayner’s ex-council house sale is attack on working class

As Angela Rayner prepares to be interviewed under police caution, her shadow cabinet colleague says she is under attack because she is ‘a working class success story’

David Maddox
Political editor
Monday 13 May 2024 12:57
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Angela Rayner and me are working class success stories, Wes Streeting says

Wes Streeting has hit out at the treatment of Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner over a probe into her housing arrangements, as it was revealed that the police are to interview her under caution.

Speaking exclusively to The Independent, Mr Streeting said that the whole saga “makes my blood boil” and he accused his colleague’s critics of attacking her because “she is a working-class success story”.

The shadow health secretary was speaking to The Independent about his autobiographical book – One Boy, Two Bills and a Fry Up – which tracks his own rise from being born into severe poverty on an east London council estate to being one of the leading MPs in Westminster and talked up as a future leader.

Greater Manchester Police are to question Ms Rayner over whether she broke electoral law by claiming to live in a property while actually living in one a few miles away in a different constituency with her partner. There have also been questions over whether she avoided paying capital gains tax when she sold the house.

The allegations have been pursued by Tory critics and right-wing elements in the media after they emerged in an unauthorised biography of her by billionaire former Tory treasurer Lord Ashcroft.

Angela Rayner is to be interviewed under caution by police (PA)

But Mr Streeting has said that he believes Ms Rayner is a victim of snobbery due to her background and the path she has taken to success. He spoke of the difference in the way they are treated due to her having been a teenage mother who came up through the trade union movement while he entered politics at Cambridge University.

He said: “I look at how Angie gets treated and it makes my blood boil because actually, our backgrounds are really similar. I think a lot of Angie’s life is fairly similar to my mum’s as well. Although she’d hate me making that comparison as she is not much older than me.

“But what I see in, in both of us are working-class success stories. I feel like because she went through the university of life as a care worker and the trade union movement and I went to the University of Cambridge, we are treated differently. Also probably because she’s a woman as well, and there’s probably a bit of a north/south divide in there too.”

Wes Streeting has defended Rayner in an interview about his 2023 memoir (PA )

But he spoke of his “pride” in Ms Rayner and “what she has achieved in her life”.

He went on: “I think that having people like her around the cabinet table, with people like me and Bridget Phillips, our shadow education secretary, means we will make fairer choices that will serve the interests of the majority of people in this country, not just the privileged few. And that in itself would be a refreshing change in No 10.”

He insisted that the characterisation is true of Sir Keir Starmer too.

“He also experienced poverty growing up. He was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and everything he’s got in life, he’s had to work for just as his dad worked for it, and his mum worked for it,” he said.

A longer interview with Mr Streeting will be published ahead of the Hay Festival, which runs from 23 May to 2 June. Book tickets at hayfestival.com and read our highlights guide for more of our recommendations

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