Who is Rachel Reeves, Britain’s first female chancellor? (2024)

Who is Rachel Reeves, Britain’s first female chancellor? (1)

As the party's finance spokesperson in opposition, Rachel Reeves has assumed the position of chancellor of the exchequer following the appointment of Sir Keir Starmer – the first Labour prime minister in 14 years.

The Labour party crossed the majority threshold and won the eagerly awaited general election in the United Kingdom in 2024, shortly after Rishi Sunak announced his resignation as prime minister.After nearly all of the results were in, Keir Starmer's party had taken 412 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons, while the Conservatives had 121 seats.

Reeves herself won the Leeds West and Pudsey constituency.

Who is Rachel Reeves?

Rachel Reeves has served as the MP for Leeds West since 2010 and as the shadow chancellor since May 2021.

Below is a detailed overview of her life and career:

Early life and education

  • Birth: Ms Reeves was born on February 13, 1979, in Lewisham, London.
  • Family background: She comes from a family emphasising public service; her father was a teacher and her mother worked as a social worker.
  • Education: Ms Reeves attended Cator Park School for Girls in Bromley (which closed in 2011). She told the Daily Telegraph in 2022 how she would work on school projects during the holidays because she liked to "do well at things" and get "top marks". She later studied at New College, Oxford, earning a philosophy, politics, and economics (PPE) degree. Subsequently, she completed a master’s degree in economics from the London School of Economics.

Professional career before politics

  • Banking and economics: Before entering politics, Reeves worked as an economist. She began her career at the Bank of England and later worked as an economist at the British Embassy in Washington DC. She also worked for Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) and in the private sector for the management consulting firm Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Political career

  • Entry into politics: Reeves first contested for the Labour party in the 2005 general election in the constituency of Bromley and Chislehurst but was not elected.
  • MP for Leeds West: In the 2010 general election, she was elected as the MP for Leeds West, succeeding John Battle.

Positions held:

  • Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury: In 2011, she was appointed to this role, shadowing the Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
  • Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions: In 2013, she was promoted to this position, where she focused on welfare issues and was known for her stance on reforming the welfare system.
  • Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee: From 2017 to 2020, she chaired this influential committee, overseeing business and industrial policy.
  • Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster: Appointed in April 2020, she significantly scrutinised the Government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer: In May 2021, Starmer appointed her to this senior role, where she became responsible for the party’s economic policies and approach to public finances.

Political stance and achievements

  • Economic policy: Reeves is known for her pragmatic approach to monetary policy, advocating fiscal responsibility while promoting investment in public services and infrastructure.
  • Labour Party reforms: She has been instrumental in modernising the Labour Party's economic stance, emphasising the need for a strong and responsible fiscal policy to gain public trust.
  • Environmental and social issues: Reeves has been vocal about the importance of addressing climate change and has supported various social justice initiatives.

Personal life

  • Family: Reeves is married to Nicholas Joicey, a civil servant who has worked in senior positions at the Treasury and the Department for Work and Pensions. The couple have two children. Reeves’s sister, Ellie Reeves, is the Labour MP for Lewisham West and Penge.
  • Publications and media: On top of her political career, Reeves is an author and has written books on economic and social history, including a biography of Alice Bacon, the first female MP for Leeds.
  • Interests: She has a keen interest in history and is known to be a fan of cycling and running. Sky News reported that Reeves's competitive streak defines her love of chess, which her father taught her when she was seven, giving her the "chess bug". She later became the British girls' under-14 champion.

What are Labour’s main manifesto points?

Here are Labour’s promises as of June 3, reported by Richard Wheeler of the PA News agency.

  • Focus on reducing NHS treatment backlogs. The party has also pledged to send “crack teams” who are already running out-of-hours programmes into hospitals to help set up evening and weekend clinics in the rest of the health service.
  • Revive plans to ban young people from ever being able to smoke legally.
  • Put 13,000 more police and police community support officers (PCSOs) back into communities, costing up to £400 million.
  • No increases to income tax, national insurance or VAT.
  • Establish a new publicly owned company, Great British Energy, to invest in homegrown energy sources and provide affordable prices to consumers.
  • Reform employment support and welfare benefits to increase the employment rate from 75 per cent to 80 per cent.
  • A decrease in net migration but no specific targets set. The party also believes reforming the apprenticeship levy to “tackle the skills gap” will help decrease migration numbers.
  • The foreign aid budget would not be used to pay for asylum seekers’ hotel costs, although the party has cautioned this would not be immediate.
  • Give coroners more powers to access information held by tech companies after a child’s death. The party says this would allow them to ensure data is retained and not deleted by tech companies.
  • To increase defence spending to 2.5 per cent ofGDP. The party has declined to outline its timeline, only noting it would do so when economic conditions allow. There would also be a new strategic defence review within the first year of a Labour government.
  • A “triple lock” for the UK’s nuclear deterrent. This involves a commitment to delivering four new ballistic submarines, maintaining the continuous at-sea deterrent, and providing all the necessary upgrades for the boats to continue their patrols.

Read More

All change at Number 10: Inside Prime Minister Keir Starmer's property portfolio
Angela Rayner, Rachel Reeves, Morgan McSweeney: who's who in the Labour party? The big names to know
What is next for household finances following Labour’s landslide victory?
'Trust me' with your money, Rachel Reeves tells voters across UK as July 4 polling day looms
Who is Rachel Reeves, Britain’s first female chancellor? (2024)

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