Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner could barely conceal her ambition today as she said she knows with ‘absolute certainty’ she would be a better prime minister than ‘blustering’ Boris Johnson.
Ms Rayner made the assertive statement during her morning media round on Saturday ahead of the first day of the Labour party conference in Brighton.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme ‘women in positions of power and influence shouldn’t just say no’ when asked if they want more.
When asked if she had ambitions to become prime minister she added: ‘If Boris Johnson can bluster himself in as prime minister I know with absolute certainty I can do better than that.’
In an effort not to outshine the current leader of the Labour party, she added that Sir Keir Starmer was the ‘jin to my yang’ and she wanted to work with him to reach Number 10.
‘Together we’re a powerful force that can change the country for the better,’ she added.
Deputy leader of the Labour Party Angela Rayner could not disguise her ambition during her morning media round on Saturday ahead of the first day of the Labour party conference. Pictured, with leader Sir Keir Starmer on Saturday
When asked if she had ambitions to become prime minister, Ms Rayner (pictured with Sir Keir) added: ‘If Boris Johnson can bluster himself in as prime minister I know with absolute certainty I can do better than that’
It comes after Ms Rayner revealed details of her youth on a council estate in Stockport, Greater Manchester, and the difficult relationship she had with her ‘unloving’ parents in an interview with the Times.
The 41-year-old said she feels she ‘can’t be loved because I (sic) never have been’.
She described a home without affection where her bipolar mother ‘could only love one person at a time’ – and chose Ms Rayner’s father.
‘She couldn’t emotionally connect to us’ because of the bipolar disorder which made her unbalanced.
‘My dad would have done something that upset her and it would be as if her world had collapsed and everything had ended and she was in total crisis.’
Ms Rayner said there were no ‘hugs and kisses’ at bedtime, instead she would try to ‘get under the blanket as quickly as possible’ and put fears about monsters in the room at the back of her mind.
She says her father was ‘shouty’ and often scared her so much she would wet the bed then hide the sheets because she was terrified of being told off.
Asked about caring for her mentally ill mother, who made several suicide attempts, Ms Rayner said: ‘She cut herself; she’s been sectioned. I’ve had to bathe her and get her out of bed, then get up and go to school.’
Ms Rayner told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme ‘women in positions of power and influence shouldn’t just say no’ when asked if they want more. Pictured, with Sir Keir
Asked about caring for her mentally ill mother, Lynn Bowen (pictured), who made several suicide attempts, Ms Rayner said: ‘She cut herself; she’s been sectioned. I’ve had to bathe her and get her out of bed, then get up and go to school’
But there were also moments of black humour – when the family would laugh about her mother bringing home wholly inappropriate items from the supermarket – in one case a tin of dog food.
‘She thought it was stewing steak. She’s not able to read or write, but she used to look at the pictures.
‘She had shaving foam once to have with our jelly – she thought it was cream. We had Immac [hair removal cream] as toothpaste. That was my mum. We used to have a laugh about it.’
Ms Rayner admits most of her childhood memories are ‘pretty horrifying’, describing washing once a week on a Sunday at her gran’s house and desperately hoping her friends would ask her for a roast dinner.
But Ms Rayner credits her ‘dysfunctional’ upbringing for her work ethic and helping her thrive in a post-Brexit Westminster.
She said hardship made her want ‘to prove people wrong’ by working ‘damn hard’.
‘I just wanted to prove people wrong, and prove to people that I was good enough. I wanted to be accepted. So I worked damn hard. I had this spirit in me.
‘I think seeing how damaged my mum was, I’ve always said I’ll never get to that point. I thought, ‘I’ll never be that weak. I’m never going to hurt like you have hurt.’
‘I think that’s part of my own psyche. You can slag me off as much as you want on Twitter, it’s never going to penetrate.’
Ms Rayner credits some of her drive to looking after her firstborn Ryan, after falling pregnant with him aged 15.
The MP for Ashton-under-Lyne left school while pregnant with Ryan and took a job as a care worker so she could look after him.
Ms Rayner, the MP for Ashton-under-Lyne, left school aged 16 while pregnant with her first child
Ms Rayner credits some of her drive to looking after her firstborn Ryan, (pictured together in 2019) after falling pregnant with him aged 15
Her chaotic upbringing also helped with life in Westminster, she says, describing the ‘screaming’ and ‘unpredictability’ of modern day politics as her ‘bread and butter’ and the Labour party as ‘nurturing’.
She says she learned about class structures and picked up important people skills on the council estate because ‘we were the lowest’.
‘The master’s in real life that I’ve got has been the thing that I’ve used the most in parliament, because you have to be able to understand the way in which communities work.
‘You have to pick up what’s said in a speech; it’s what’s not said or what’s happening in the environment. I learnt that very early on from being young and having to survive.’
Asked about Sir Keir, Ms Rayner insists he is the ‘right person’ to lead Labour in an election and win back so-called red wall voters.
‘I don’t think him being a “sir” is a problem, because we quite like that sort of thing,’ she said.
‘If [I were him] going to my local social club I might lose the tie, because he might come across as a lawyer as he walks in the room and someone might think they’re in trouble, but actually I think Keir, when he’s in his normal environment, is exactly what you’d want from a prime minister.’
Asked about Sir Keir, Ms Rayner insists he is the ‘right person’ to lead Labour in an election and win back so-called red wall voters
She said standing her ground on possible demotion had nothing to do with Sir Keir because she ‘holds her ground on everything’.
‘I’ve always stood for what I think is right and I’ll keep doing that. I’ll always stand up for what I think is the right thing to do morally, and if that costs me, then so what? Because at the end of the day I’m already punching above my gene pool.
‘Whatever I’ve got I already consider to be extremely more than I ever envisaged having, so I don’t value those things. I value my dignity and respect.
‘I value people thinking I’ve tried to do the right thing, because that was something that my nana instilled in me. If you do what you think is right, no one owns you. You can’t own me.’
Elsewhere, Ms Rayner claimed Sir Keir’s bid to end the one-member-one vote election system would’t be voted on at party conference.
This is despite Labour apparently confirming the party leader would be putting his reforms for electing future leaders to the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).
Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), said it would be a ‘bit rushed’ for the Labour leader to bring his party reforms to the autumn conference.
Ms Rayner told the BBC’s Today Programme there would be no vote this weekend, but it was likely to be discussed.
Meanwhile, left-wing campaign group Momentum said proposals to bring back Labour’s electoral college are ‘dead’.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is said to be ‘pleased’ with the reforms he will be putting to the NEC, according to a spokesman.
It comes as it appeared Sir Keir had abandoned plans to shake up how future leaders are elected by moving back to an electoral college system.
A spokesman said: ‘Keir said on Tuesday it wasn’t a take it or leave it deal. That’s how we’ve approached it and we’re pleased with where we’ve ended up.’
It is understood there will be ‘significant changes’ to the leadership rules – including raising the threshold of MP nominations to 25 per cent for leadership elections and abandoning registered supporter involvement.