Angela Rayner has declared that she has “nothing but respect” for the new Labour leader but added that “if Keir Starmer did something wrong, I’d think nothing of calling him out on it”.
In a Times Radio interview this afternoon, the deputy leader of the party discussed working with Starmer and what it was like to take up her role in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
Commenting on her relationship with Starmer, Rayner explained: “If Keir Starmer did something wrong, I’d think nothing of calling him out on it, let me tell you.
“Keir’s forensic but he doesn’t do much about his personal life. But if you know what motivates Keir, you’ll know what an amazing individual he is.
“You know, looking after his mum who was, as you know, very, very poorly. I can disagree with him on the point of policy but his core principles, and what motivates him, is tremendous. I have nothing but respect for him.”
Starmer and Rayner won the leader and deputy elections in April this year in the midst of the pandemic. Rayner described how it was a “bit weird starting off as we did in lockdown”.
On her first conversation with Starmer as deputy, she said: “He said to me what happens if I get it and get poorly? I need to make sure that immediately the system is in place that you become the leader. Which shows you the kind of man he is.”
She also spoke about her decision to stand for deputy, rather than standing against her colleague and friend Rebecca Long-Bailey MP for leader. Rayner described how she thought that it would not be “helpful for the party”.
She said: “Women, especially women in positions of power, almost are set up to compete against each other. I didn’t want to compete with Beccy because I think Beccy is an amazing politician.
“And I didn’t want us to be up against each other. I didn’t see that as helpful for the party. I didn’t see it as helpful for sisterhood. I didn’t see it as helpful for us going forward…
“I was like: yeah, of course you should stand for it, I think it’s great. I just think that as women, we do get a tougher time in positions of power… It’s so important that us women look out for each other.”
On Starmer’s move to sack Long-Bailey earlier this year, Rayner said: “You’ve got to separate out the job that Keir Starmer has as leader of the Labour Party and the role that each and every one of us have as a member of that cabinet.”