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Angela Rayner

I get why the north is voting Tory

William Dax/Getty Images

Angela Rayner grew up “desperately poor” on a council estate in Stockport, got pregnant at 16 and left school with no qualifications. Now, at 41, she’s deputy leader of the Labour Party, Shadow Secretary of State for the Future of Work, Shadow First Secretary of State, and Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. “I keep wanting to say Lancashire,” she tells Politico’s Westminster Insider podcast. “I had to keep saying ‘caster’, like in sugar”, in case I mispronounce it and some media person says: “Look, she’s really thick! She can’t even say her own title!”

She understands why voters have flocked to Boris Johnson. He comes across as “authentic”, but also “a bit spicy, and willing to throw a grenade in”. She admits she might have been a Tory voter herself if she was 18 in the north today. “We like a bit of argy-bargy or someone who’s going to upset what the norm is.”

Not like her boss, “incredibly professional guy” Sir Keir Starmer. “He might cheese me off every now and then”, she says, and they have plenty of “robust” conversations, but they’ve never fallen out. She reserves her ire for party factions trying to keep Labour in a perpetual “power struggle”. And over what? “We’re not in power” – and, until we are, we just look like “bald men fighting over combs”.

Listen to the podcast here.